Broadway Bike Lanes Completed in Providence



Broadway Bike Lanes Completed in Providence

The City of Providence has finally completed the long awaited Broadway Bike Lanes.  Announced in 2008 as coming soon, and rumors of imminent milling and repaving, 2011 sees the city complete its current bike plan with the installation of this lane, adding 2 lane miles to the city’s inventory.

Below are photos taken during a ride down the lanes over the last couple of weeks with the final striping and stencils in place.  Other amenities along the street are signs at the intersections indicating that bicycles should be placed on a not yet present line in the line at intersections.  Presumably these will line up with the induction loop sensors that have been installed in the lane.

While the lane is short and not particularly connected to any other bicycle specific amenities at this time, I would expect that with the pending project to revise the city’s bike plan, the Broadway bike lane will become an integral part of that network.

From observation, east bound drivers on Broadway coming from Olneyville and Route 6 aren’t entirely comfortable with the new striping and the appropriate route/lane shift to get into the right turn only lane onto Barton Street. At this location, the bike lane beings and is striped at an angle from the curb to occupy a position between the straight and turn only lanes (see photo below).  On the 3 occassions I’ve traveled through, I’ve seen cars stay to the left of the bike lane and then change lanes across the bike lane to make the right turn as they near the light rather than changing lanes through the “dashed lines”.

The lanes aren’t perfect, appearing to be approximately 4 feet wide, located adjacent to a parking lane.  This leaves it possible for a person leaving a vehicle to endanger a rider by opening their door into the lane.  Given the narrowness of the street and other travel lanes, a wider bike lane or a striped buffer would not fit into the footprint of the street, however, so it’s difficult to see how the street design could have been much different.

There are one locations where the lane disappears on the East bound track, leaving the rider with a sharrow in the straight lane between Bainbridge Ave and Tobey St.  At this location a left-turn only lane is present, and straight traffic is shifted to the right, causing the auto and bike lane to merge for the block.  The lane resumes immediately after the Tobey Street intersection. The lane also ends without warning or accommodation at Ringgold Street with no lane markings or sharrows for the last block to Dean St, where the new paving ends.  The street configuration doesn’t appear to have changed for this block, with no dedicated turn lanes add yet, making it not obvious why the lane ends at that location.

West bound the situation is similar, with the lane ending at Harkness St. to accommodate a right turn-only lane onto Tobey.  Sharrows are placed in the straight through travel lane.  The bike lane doesn’t resume until Bainbridge St., and finally ending at Barton St.  West bound also has one extra hazard, not present in the opposite direction, manhole covers that are frequently set an inch or so below the level of the paving.  There seems to be one in every intersection, and several extras.

Discussions and additional photos can be found on posts at Greater City:Providence and CarFreePVD.


  • Dec 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Darn it! You scooped me on this story! I was in the middle of my post about the Broadway lanes. I'll have to hurry up tonight and get it ready. Thanks for linking to my partial post.

  • Victor
    Dec 6, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Can't wait to visit these!

  • Labann
    Dec 8, 2011 at 6:42 am

    "…so it’s difficult to see how the street design could have been much different."

    I did suggest an enormous improvement over what's "finally" installed, but nobody here pays any attention whatever. They could have had a 2-way bikeway on only one side of street, between curb and an inside a parking "lane", which is how they do it in many cities including NYC. Sometimes they separate with jersey barriers.

    What's better is that you get a wider lane to use all of when there's no on-coming cyclists; motorists don't have to deal with cyclists as much, either. What worse is that you don't have motorists sweeping lane with their tires. It remains to be seen whether motorists will avoid driving and passing in bike lane or dooring the unwary. Despite dedicated lanes, slow down and watch actions and heads inside cars.

  • Matt Moritz
    Dec 8, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Interesting suggestion, but doesn't such a design put a rider MORE at risk given all of the side streets/cross streets by making a bicycle rider less visible and more prone to left and right cross types of accidents due to the obstruction of the vehicle, and additionally puts the rider at a disadvantage when trying to make a turn across the entire width of the street? I can see that queuing the rider into the crosswalk into a "straight across" pattern at the intersection would be one way of solving that, but treats a turning rider as a second class citizen. Bike only portions of the light cycles at light-controlled intersections could also be good, but not all turning movements are controlled/limited by lights. I think the jury is still out on the benefits and changed risks of screened bike lanes (and they're certainly not not in the traffic designers bible, the MUTCD, yet). We'd have to convince city DPW/traffic engineering to do something experimental.

  • Labann
    Dec 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    In my book I discuss pros/cons, but, let's face it, what's optimal are dedicated bikeways across which motorists must stop or over-underpasses to avoid all interaction, followed by well laid out "corridors" that include bicycling boulevards along quieted streets without parking. Striped lanes, either outboard of parking lane (as on Broadway) or simply wide shoulders (as along Post Rd South of Apponaug) are better than nothing but don't really imply traffic safety planning unless they are connected segments on a continuous corridor stretching throughout state from and to bikeways, not something that just ends when political will shrugs it off in the next city or town, like Smithfield.

    Well, anyway, hurray for Providence for creeping 0.1% closer to compliance under law, 2 miles covered after 7 years of promises, now only 2000 miles left… at this rate they'll meet 1990 statutes by the year 9011.

  • Victor
    Dec 9, 2011 at 4:03 am

    "Well, anyway, hurray for Providence for creeping 0.1% closer to compliance under law, 2 miles covered after 7 years of promises, now only 2000 miles left… at this rate they’ll meet 1990 statutes by the year 9011."

    Wondering, where does Providence, or RI say they will build 2000 miles of bike lanes if it even does?

  • Labann
    Dec 9, 2011 at 8:23 am

    You didn't get my point… there are 2000 miles of roadway in the city, all of which require bike-ped accommodations because of the amount of traffic. Granted, some side streets are okay as they are, but most don't meet basic compliance.

  • Bill Lewis
    Dec 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Yay! A door zone bike lane. I saw this abortion on Sunday I would not ride in it because it is a classic DZBL that is no safer and maybe less safe than no paint on the road at all. This type of lane just re-enforces the idea in driver's minds that bicyles do not belong on the road with the other vehicles. Broadway like the similarly named street in Newport is wide enough to share without striping a segregated ghetto that is almost entirely swept by a car door opening. A better approach is to slow traffic to a real speed of 15 to 20 MPH with strong police enforcement.

    Thhe problem with putting a parking lane out of the bike lane is now you have to worry about the passengers dooring you and drivers coming around the front of their vehicles and walking into the bike lane.

    Think these things through.

  • Matt Moritz
    Dec 14, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I've been thinking about how much of a hue and cry we who use bicycles and are a bit wonky about infrastructure and safety every time a bike lane is installed that includes the parking lane door zone. We know instinctively and from study that at least 11 feet from the curb or slightly further is the ideal distance to avoid the door zone reasonably, but that existing guidelines from AASHTO say that placing the lane in the 8' to 12' from curb zone is appropriate. Anecdotally, I don't think I've ever met someone who has been doored. But I do know many people who have been right-hooked, left-hooked and have been personally pushed sideways by a car front bumper as I crossed an intersection. How many doorings are actually happening and where are they happening? From a quick google, it seems that very few municipalities/DOTs are keeping track of this type of collision, despite laws making it a fined offense. One project I'd like to tackle in the next year or so is getting RIDOT/DMV/Police data on collisions to analyze where problem locations are within the state, and what causes are attributed that we can address (in addition to better driver and rider education). I haven't asked for the data yet, but I have a suspicion dooring data isn't going to be present.

  • Labann
    Dec 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I've been doored dozens of times, forced out of bike lanes on Narragansett Parkway not only by drivers getting out without looking, but dunderheads driving in them, and veritable trenches where surfaces aren't kept up despite the fact I drew attention to it while riding with a RIDOT official, who took snapshots. I've been hit, hooked, and mistreated generally by some small percentage of motorists who probably shouldn't have licenses.

    I usually ride in travel lane, as law prescribes, as far right as possible (in the travel lane) to permit trailing cars to pass. When that isn't possible, it's nice to have an open parking lane, or possibly a "gore area" where motorists are prohibited. But even the solid white stripe that defines road edge is no deterrent to them.

    This week as I was riding home, I cam upon a fork in road with 1 lane headed right with no shoulder, and 2 lanes left. I had a red light, so I crossed over to leftmost lane and stopped as to least inconvenience everyone. Nevertheless, a motorist passing totally unencumbered in opposite direction rolled down window to call me an "effin' moron". Earlier, while creeping close to curb, for no apparent reason I was buzzed by another motorist who pulled into breakdown lane narrowly missing me then shifted back into open travel lane.

  • Labann
    Dec 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Had an opportunity to ride up Broadway from downtown Providence. Where you most need bike lanes they're missing: from Lasalle Square to Dean St and before and after Tobey Street. Olneyville Square is a twisty mess of traffic islands and uncertainty as to who's racing in from which angle. This is not continuous bike infrastructure; no motorist would stand for roads similarly negligent. RIPTA drivers don't get it; had to wait while bus straddled the bike lane all the way.

    Only someone whose ass flap is dangling thinks that competing with passengers and pedestrians in a doublewide bike lane inbound of parking is anything more than a specious criticism of a practice used everywhere else on the planet except the United States, where, unfortunately, motoring rules at the expense of safety, sense and sustainability.