Public Hearing on Canonchet Bike Path



Public Hearing on Canonchet Bike Path

Great Swamp - South County Bike Path - Source: South County Independent reports that a

public hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.  The only item up for discussion will be bike paths on the property. This hearing most likely will be followed by a final hearing, after which the council could close discussion on the future of the land.

If anyone from this area can attend the meeting, please follow up with a comment.


  • Jesse Hansen
    Mar 29, 2011 at 3:14 am

    I attended the first hour of the 2-hour Public Hearing on the Canonchet Farm Master Plan at the Narragansett Town Hall. The goal of the meeting was to get input from the public on plan for a bike path near or though the town-owned Canonchet property. This path would finally complete the South County (O’Neil) Bike Path by providing a route from the end of the soon-to-be-completed extension (which will terminate at Mumford Rd and Riverside Dr) to route 1A and the town beach.

    There are several proposed routes including four on-site options and one off-site route. All are mapped on the next-to-last page of the Canonchet Farm Master Plan, which can be found here:

    The majority of residents who spoke before the council advocated for choosing an off-site routing of the path. Option 3, shown in green on the map, shows one possible off-site routing, though it may not be the final design. The reasons given for supporting the off-site routing were varied, but the most common themes were:

    Connects to Sprague Park

    Lower cost

    Crosses fewer wetlands

    Leaves open space undisturbed

    Less isolated / more accessible

    Since 4 of 5 members of the planning board had initial recommended an on-site route, it remains to be seen what the final plan will entail. Future council or planning board sessions will likely decide the way forward.

    If anyone else attended the meeting, especially the last 40 minutes, please add your comments here.

  • Labann
    Mar 29, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Option 3 is excellent for all those reasons stated, plus it swings by The Pier, presumable destination of path riders. Meets my vote on previous thread. They could still consider extending it northward as a route parallel to Rt-1A. Middlebridge is another destination frequented by cyclists.

    This will conclude O'Neil Path's function as an alternative form of transportation between Narragansett proper and West Kingston Station, similar to the Sea-to-Shining-Sea path between Falmouth center and Martha's Vineyard ferry parking lots.

  • Mar 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Feedback from someone else who attended the meeting:

    The Narragansett bike path situation is a lot more contentious than predicted. The majority of the Antis are the Cononchet Farm people . They are split on the path going through the park but most are against. They are playing the dark, dangerous pike path is a corridor for crime primarily and environmental concerns secondarily. One fellow Bernie Gold, handed out a 400+ page report on all the police calls to the O’Neill path over the last 11 years.

    Comments were limited to Narragansett tax payers. Antis used a tactic of having people read letters from neighbors, 5-7 each, citing concerns and dominated the dais. A few pros were allowed to speak but the room was very negative. Dave Kerber did a nice job of pointing out the pros of the through park options and pointing out the dangerous nature of the on street option.

    There are some real concerns. There are wetland issues. They are not very far along in getting plans clear. No surveys to wetland studies have been done yet. The budgetary numbers are 10 year old. I spoke with member Crook after the meeting and according to him the lower cost of the on street route gives it a big edge.

    We may be whistling in the dark hoping for a route through the park. The dire money problems look to be a powerful tool for those against it. It does not seem to have much public support and the council may be leaning away from it. They have decided not to continue the issue and are moving on to the next phase of the park plan.

    After the meeting I spoke with state rep Teresa Tanzi who is for a path through the park, but not on the council, she thinks that council member Susan Cicilline-Buonanno may be a sympathetic ear. Cicilline-Buonanno was not in attendance last night. I recommend someone more familiar with path design and use contact Councilwoman Cicilline-Buonanno with our safety concerns for the on street route and offer to help come up with an option should the through park routes all be rejected.

  • margherita
    Mar 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    It might be helpful going forward to compile a bunch of examples where the exact same fears and wild scare tactics were used before bike paths were built — with the same neighborhoods then recognizing increased property values once the path was actually installed!

    There are quite a few studies out there specifically on the economic benefits of bike paths. We just need to provide the credible evidence to rebut these tired claims.

  • Labann
    Mar 30, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Option #3 is fine, skirts wetland, which both encourages conservation and raises awareness, and takes nimbys out of the equation. Sorry, Kerber, but see Option 3 as the preferred compromise, better than exiting Mumford and using Rt-1A, which all cyclists will be doing until this resolution passes. As I said above to deaf ears, Canochet Farm can be accessed and exited by paved side road from proposed Option #3 bike segment.

  • Mar 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

    For those that are local or know this area better, doesn't option #3 dump you on a narrow residential street (Wanda St), with parking on both sides? This isn't really where you'd want to dump a family of cyclists, with small children, or non-confident riders. It's important to consider the target audience when considering the placement of this route. We want to encourage people to cycle to areas rather than drive!

  • Labann
    Mar 31, 2011 at 3:40 am

    O'Neil Path goes on street before Rt 108 anyway. They could restrict parking on one side for a 2-way bike lane, and it's only one block! So, instead, you'd have them go the long way around, traipse through a deserted swamp, then ride 1/4 mile along high speed Rt-!A to return to the Pier? Makes way more sense to quiet traffic patterns in the area of Wanda St.

  • Mar 31, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I was wondering out loud whether or not this was an argument to keep the path off the streets. As I said in my comment, I don't know this area and was looking for local feedback. Perhaps it's just a quiet neighborhood street where kids ride their bikes on the roads all the time. My real point was that we need to consider what's best for the users of the path.

    I know people who only ride bike paths because they are scared to touch a wheel on a "real" street. Some I've managed to coax off bike paths when I ride with them, but some may never venture off. When a completed separated bike path option is available, I think of these people and ask whether there isn't a way to keep it off roads.

  • Labann
    Mar 31, 2011 at 10:35 am

    OK. I've ridden on quiet Wanda Street, but, yeah, I ride though Providence all the time, so I'm no timid mouse. But can't you see that ALL RI's bike paths cross streets at certain points? Wanda St already does restrict parking to deter beach goers. Once you get to that one block, if you're too timid, turn left up Strathmore Rd into Canochet Farm if you like. This real issue is the last block alongside Canochet Lake to the Pier, but a wide sidewalk there would serve.

  • Jesse Hansen
    Jun 30, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    The South County Independent is now reporting that Phase 4 of the South County (O'Neill) Bike Path is set to move forward after a vote from the town council. The path appears set to run through the town-owned Canonchet property rather than using a proposed "off-site" route. The town will get $1.2 million in DOT money for work on the path.

    "the [Narragansett town] council voted 4-1 to run phase four of the William C. O'Neill Bike Path through Canonchet Farm, despite concerns from residents and environmentalists about the impact the path would have. Town Council President Glenna Hagopian said specific design plans would be referred to the state Department of Transportation, which has the final decision in determining the route. State workers are finishing work on phase three of the bike path, which will dump cyclists and joggers at Mumford Road near Narragansett Elementary School."

  • Labann
    Aug 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Okay, over weekend attempted to ride through Canochet Farm on Anne Hoxie Lane, but it's hard-packed dirt gated for parking in season. Instead, made turn at light below Lake Canochet to Wanda Street, which was quiet residential with hardly any parked cars until I got to Strathmore, which locals treat like an expressway. There would have to be some sort of bicyclist-controlled light or permanent STOP sign to safely cross. BTW: Motorists are supposed to always stop for bikes and pedestrians at crosswalks, not the other way around; the proper signage is "crossing ahead" for pedicyclists (not "stop" or "yield"), and "stop for pedestrians" for motorists.

    Only RI-1A currently offers access to Mumford; although shoulders are adequate,that's something of a problem if headed Eastbound, requiring kids to cross high speed traffic twice. Sprague Park already has a dirt road running from Little League field to Narragansett Elementary School.

    Continuing Westbound, just beyond school O'Neill path begins and runs continually uphill to a graffiti painted underpass (sanctioned ongoing art project). Question the safety design of running downhill Eastbound into Mumford Road; probably should have better controls in place for motorists, perhaps make section of Mumford between Kimberly and Riverside Drives one-way Eastbound with a wide painted bike lane for a transition.

    Route resumes on MacArthur Blvd, recently repaved but unstriped, for a block. Path per se resumes once you cross RI-108. Similarly path ends and route resumes on Railroad Street for a block, where I heard a child fearfully asking mother if they would "still have to ride on streets" ahead.

  • Jesse Hansen
    Aug 2, 2011 at 2:39 am

    Labann, that's a good summary of the best route between Boston Neck Road (1A at the beach) and the South County Bike Path in Wakefield.

    I have been taking this exact route about 2 times per week since the first round of pavement was laid on the path extension. I would only elaborate on the locations where I feel the lest comfortable on my commute home from work.

    For example, Kingstown Road (1A) past Sprague Park was a bit dicey during the spring baseball season when lots of folks park in the nice wide parking lane (and set up lawn chairs on the sidewalk!), forcing cyclists to ride out in busy traffic. Strathmore is, as you indicated, an expressway for locals. The blind left turn from Wanda onto Strathmore is therefore fairly dangerous. Mumford Rd, a high-speed shortcut favored by locals to avoid traffic, has no shoulder to speak of, especially near the bike path entrance. And, lastly, once on the path, the intersection where a cyclist must cross Route 108 from MacArthur is a bit wonky. There are three options for getting across: 1) Act as a vehicle, and hope a car comes along to trigger the stop light, 2) Treat the stop light like a stop sign and cross 108 when traffic calms down, or 3) Become a pedestrian: dismount, cross MacArthur, hit the pedestrian light button, and then cross 108.

    Despite these issues, the new segment of bike path is the preferable route to get from 1A near the beach to the Wakefield-Peacedale area. (There are 3 onstreet options, all very dangerous in the evening hours.) Any of the proposed routings of Phase 4 of the path will only further enhance the quality and safety of the ride.

  • Labann
    Aug 2, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Yeah. Not disputing that RI-1A is too dangerous, especially once you get to rotary. Bike path is fine, but its transition to streets in each case in poorly executed. I am a fan of cutting costs by exiting onto QUIET streets where practical, but not of kneejerk installations of bike paths where opportunities simply present themselves, not where really needed. Focus should be to mitigate potential hazards or traffic snarl but not at the expense of pedicyclist access. Surprised just how these last few segments of O'Neill Path meet those conditions considering Narragansett is practically rural.

    Bike paths can serve a lot of different purposes including but not limited to [in order of priority]:

    1. Safer routes for bicyclists and pedestrians, especial children going to school.

    2. Promote alternative ways to get to busy businesses and terminals, such as connections between congested city cores, parking lots on outskirts, and terminals (air, bus, train).

    3. Provide access across barriers (e.g., bridges, highways, train tracks) and around exclusion zones (airports, industrial sites) or convenience over hilly terrain.

    4. Increase local spending in tourism through recreational opportunities.

    5. Conserve natural places (raise awareness of habitats and wetlands).

    6. Provide access to isolated pockets for rescue vehicles.

    7. Foster community/village spirit; improve quality of life.

    8. Cut healthcare costs by improving air quality and getting some to propel themselves.

    9. Raise property values.

    10. Make motoring more convenient by redirecting slower moving traffic.

  • Labann
    Aug 2, 2011 at 6:34 am

    I might add to the above that short segments of bike path between decent riding venues is often more than adequate to meet "complete streets" mandates. For example, Bike Route through Governor Francis Farms ends abruptly at Landsdowne Street, a block from dreaded Warwick Ave. Bike Route resumes on West Shore Rd a few blocks later after the cycling nightmare Hoxie Four Corners. There's nothing that can be done to improve bikeability of Hoxie (Airport Rd & Warwick Ave). However, there is unimproved public land between the Landsdowne cul-de-sac and West Shore Road. A few hundred feet of bike path would increase bike-ped safety by a quantum leap; it's on Warwick's (far distant) future development plan. But this is only one of dozens of such inexpensive but meaningful opportunities in Warwick, most of which violate scores of federal traffic safety regulations. For the most part, Providence is actually easier to get around (more streets, slower traffic) by bike than Warwick, although Warwick has 2/3 as many kids (20,000 to 30,000) going to schools unsafely.