What Detour?



Source: http://www.dreadcentral.com/img/news/feb11/detour.jpgI tweeted a few weeks back about how pleased I was to see small packs/gaggles/whatever of students in Barrington riding to school in the morning.  It was a clear sign that they were doing something right, encouraging their students to transport themselves to school and it was working!

Unfortunately, the following discussion came up on the Bike-to-Brown email list:


My son and his friends have been USING the bike path to get to Hampden Meadows School this year.  Yesterday, four of them headed to school as usual, but their way was blocked by this construction site.  The kids didn’t know what to do.  There were no signs indicating a detour and no way around the work site.  Since they are not supposed to ride on roads, they decided to turn around and head home.  My son caught the bus.
I rode with my son this morning.  There is a back hoe and the grass has been removed on either side of the bike path where it meets middle highway.  This corner is where the Barrington Country Club backs up to the bike path.
This really made me think about the need for signage on the bike path when parts of it are closed.  The kids really had no idea what they should do to get around the construction. There were options, but none were obvious or obviously safe.

How sad is this, kids trying to get themselves to school only to be thwarted by a lack of realization that people actualy USE the bike path to go somewhere.  I would say it was another sign of the discrepency between how cars and bicycles are treated, but that would assume detours are regularly setup for automobiles when work is being performed.  Being from out of state originally, I can attest to how challenging a Rhode Island “detour” can be to follow, when you have no idea where you are or the layout of roads.

More importantly though, I think this points to the fact that we need to work with our local agencies whenever they are performing work, to try and ensure that detours are posted.  As we encourage more kids especially to get on their bikes rather than hitching a ride with a parent, it’s key that we provide them with a safe environment in which to travel.  If there is a bike path available to them, all the better, let’s just make sure workers know they are actually USED for transportation.

We have reached out to RIDOT to see if they know anything about this construction project and will do our best to educate local agencies of the need to be conscientious of the needs and different requirements of cyclists.  If you come across a construction site like this, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and talk with the construction workers.  Be nice, but let them know what impact they are having on cyclists.  Who knows, perhaps one of them will go to the extra effort of posting a detour next time around.


  • Labann
    May 28, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Been saying this for years… how cities, RIDOT, state. TAC and towns here treat cyclists, no motorist would stand for a minute. "What do you expect us to do?" Imagine driving your beloved caddy to a bridge entrance and greeted with chain link fencing and road bans, then having to take a 65 mile detour? That's what cyclists get trying to cross the Jamestown, Newport and Sakonnet Bridges, and until recently George Washington (and when is George Redman going to be done?). Bicycles aren't submersibles. On key bike commute routes, if they must dig up constantly, maybe they need to cut a skirting temporary hardpack path, or "quiet" (restrict motoring/parking) a few streets detouring around construction.

    Or maybe we ought to park some steel bike racks across the entry to RIDOT's parking lot up on New London Turnpike. Let them walk. Or we could go the Gossamer Albatross route, huge winged bicycles that fly… very slowly. Are we not traffic, too?

    For the record, nice group rode for an hour at last night Critical Mass, and rush hour motorists actually had to deal with us. According to neurobiologists, chronic stress triggers corrosive hormones and winds up a cumulative killer. Traffic snarl pollutes air worse and wastes extra fuel. So, don't be a jerk…
    unless motorists, planners, RIDOT and TAC are jerks first and neglect your needs (and where in RI is that not occuring despite federal laws against?).

  • Ted Lewandowski
    May 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Don't take this the wrong way – but kids today are too sheltered – they can't think for themselves because the restrictions parents place on them – I see it with my own nephew and niece – they live in North Kingstown – in a cul-de-sac and are forbidden to answer the door day or night by themselves – my brother's excuse – those are the rules of the burbs! These kids will grow up to distrust – rather than trust people – because that is what has been instilled in them and they cannot make a decision if there is an obstacle placed in their path – in this example construction on a bike path.

    When I was in high school – I got up at 5AM did a training ride of 25 miles – came home took a shower – had breakfast and rode my other bike to school. After school – I usually did another training ride – then rode to EP Cycle (10 miles each way) to work as a bike mechanic – and then rode home in the dark (I admit that was not smart as I was on a race bike).

    The point is – we need to give kids some decision-making capabilities – otherwise they will not be able to thinks for themselves.

  • Labann
    May 30, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Well, Ted, the blame for that goes directly to leadership, beginning with smiling liar Reagan, who sold out this country to greedy multinational corporations. Small interactions like the middle-class values you mention suffered, were government's lowest priority. Giving tax breaks to the uber-wealthy was (or incorporated offshore, no taxes). The detour funneled tax dollars into billionaire accounts.

    I was a paperboy, went into people's homes to collect and deliver. It wasn't without risks, but in those days pedophiles, rapists, serial killers, and terrorists used to be prosecuted and punished. Now they're able to fend off "profiling" and move right next door without warning… or remain pastors and priests despite allegations and proof. Some hide behind celebrity, yet are adored once they die. Blame DEA, too, because 95% of all crimes is somehow related to drug dependency, no cash for gambling or stash, poor impulse control, and rotten examples in powerful positions.

    Conservatives (Murray, Palin, Trump) and liberals (Kennedy, Olbermann) alike feather their own beds instead of serve public. The World has been radically altered, yet basic family needs have hardly changed (food, health, homes, jobs, savings), only they are no longer met by elected officials. Trillions are spent on Homeland Security, while home invasion is one of the fastest growing crime stats, except for suicide in elderly population increasing faced with isolation, up 145% since 2000. Taxes protect the uber-rich, not you. Try starting a small business these days; might as well paint a target on your back.