Can you make bicycling in RI better?



Can you make bicycling in RI better?

New Lights Installed during Light Up the Night


Can you envision a Rhode Island with a completed network of offroad paths, dedicated, safe, bicycle-only lanes and signed bicycle routes?  Can you see a Rhode Island where riding a bicycle to get to work, market, game, or friends house is normal?   I can, because that’s what the members, founders and board of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition have set as their vision of the future.

With 2012 already 10% behind us, please consider becoming a member of Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition.  Your membership makes a difference as we work to make Rhode Island a place where riding a bicycle is safe and normal.  As an all volunteer managed and run organization, every bit of time and money makes the voice of bicycle users stronger in our state.  Please join your voice to ours by becoming a member and becoming involved.

In 2011, we executed a well attended Bike To Work Day in Providence, with live television coverage on The Rhode Show, and the participation of Mayor Taveras and Representative Art Handy.  Vice President and Legislative Committee Chair Barry Schiller worked with sponsors to have Vulnerable Roadway User legislation introduced in both the house and senate, organized RIBIKE members and other groups to attend Senate and House hearings in support of the legislation.   You can read more about 2011 in the annual report.

For 2012, I’m excited to think about the possibilities of partnering with more organizations to get Vulnerable Roadway User legislation enacted, which would serve to toughen fines for injuring anyone not in a vehicle above the current level.  We’ve partnered with the producers of Bicycle Dreams to bring two showings to Providence, looking forward to Bike Month in May, with some new events in the planning stages as well as the annual Bike To Work Day.

Matt Moritz
President of the Board


  • Labann
    Feb 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Been delivering this message locally long before there was a coalition. Few disagree except fringe lunatics and those with vested interests. Contention lies in the details. Certainly, wherever existing bikeways exist, access ought to be freely accommodated.

    For example, there are shoulders on Park Ave in Cranston where it intersects W.S.B.P, but 2 blocks away there's an intersection with Dyer Ave with a turning lane and no shoulder (a situation repeated a dozen times along its few miles). Bikeway's terminus at Parkade exits to Cranston St, but there are 6 motoring lanes and no bike lane at the important RI-10 underpass. These "pinch points" are the kind of situations that force cyclists off streets and pressure them to use cars for commuting. Some think that's a consumerist conspiracy.

    All cyclists really need are adequate road shoulders and driver awareness. Technically speaking, cyclists are entitled to ride within travel lanes, but shoulders provide a "pressure valve" that allows them to let motorists pass, which works fine as long as shoulders are clear and present. The one thing advocates need to stress is maintaining shoulders during repaving.

    Bikeways and signs are nice but not absolutely necessary. Instead, bridge access, elbow room along flat terrain, inclusion in development plans, parallel routes to busy roads, segments of path linking cul-de-sacs, and ways to cross major impediments (highways, industrial parks, railroads) should already be included in all zoning codes statewide.

    Much like watershed models, you need to identify what corridors are indispensable for cycling through state (border to border, E-W, N-S). This doesn't mean every street needs a bike lane; not by a long shot. Streets that are <23' wide with little traffic need little. If you choose to designate a major route for bicycling, then a shoulder is key. If you parallel an interstate or state road using side streets, then you need route signs to direct bike traffic. There could be signs on major arteries directing cyclists to an adjacent bikeway if not obvious how to access.

    As far as awareness, 99% of issues reside with motorist impatience and poor road planning. As a minimum, driver's ed should cover road sharing. Not enough is done to discourage bike-ped insensitivity with drivers in general, but especially bus and truck drivers; CDL certificates do require road/written tests. There should be mandatory classes and community service for those convicted of Frank's Law violations. Onus is on people piloting huge murderous vehicles for convenience wantonly putting everyone else in peril. Cyclists are instantly aware of issues, so bringing message to them is preaching to the choir. Parents shouldn't have to worry about kids; as it is, they are fearful letting play outside mainly because of motorized morons. It's tragic.

  • Nancy
    Feb 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    A problem with the WSBP in the Cranston area at Dyer Ave. is a pit bull that's allowed to wander the area. Last May was my last time on that path after the dog came after another passing biker and myself in the lower ravine area. He was circling and growling, we had no way out and I managed to call 911. The operator calmly ask numerous questions "Exactly what is the color of the dog?" "What is he doing now?" etc while the other biker kept him at bay by banging his bike on the ground. It took 15 MINUTES for the police to respond, to find that the dog lives in one of the mill houses visible by the bike path and he "sometimes gets through the fence". I've seen the dog running on Dyer Ave and down the bike path numerous times but the owner was just told to try to keep him in the yard. The officer told me he thought he'd refer it to the Cranston Dog Officer since the tiny woman who owned the pit bull "doesn't seem to have control of him". Three later calls to the dog officer with no response was enough for me, never again. Also by that bike path we had a pit bull charge out of a house facing the Bain track where so many unknowing people walk daily, and attack a tiny dog being walked by his owner right on the track. Luckily the guy only got his hand ripped open but the screaming, blood and terror is unforgettable. This is an area loaded with children. Cranston needs to control its' pit bulls. I live here but drive to bike elsewhere.

  • Labann
    Feb 12, 2012 at 4:55 am


    Agree. Cranston is infested with pit bulls and rotties. Stupid owners don't realize: a) These breeds, along with dog/wolf mixes, are responsible for 90% of 3 million bites reported each year, and b) They are responsible 100% for all damage and injury their dogs cause, even if victim is a criminal.

    I've been personally attacked scores of times but never seriously injured, although bites aren't necessarily only damage attacks might cause (collisions, falls, heart attacks). I know 3 cyclists who were bitten, rate Rehoboth as the most locally infested town with pets off the leash, but doesn't matter where you're attacked, except if you happen to be climbing a hill with rotties on both sides snapping at your heels, which happened to me in Exeter. They found a rider dead from natural causes on Rocky Hill Rd in Scituate, but I always suspected he was trying to escape an attack. In Foster, not only is there a doghouse positioned right next to East Killingly Rd with a beast on a long chain that lunges out into street, a whole pack of 6 – 8 feral strays roam at will to terrorize cyclists. I won't even ride through Clayville, where I've seen them and other semi-domestic versions of Cujo many times.

    Part of any bike corridor planning would be to put dog owners on notice. Generally speaking, main thoroughfares aren't where you find dogs, since leaving them off leash would be readily noticed and remediated. You can't let dogs put you off riding; most are only defending a 100 yard zone around home, so give up chase after a several seconds, and some lunges are meant as friendly play not territorial viciousness.

  • barry
    Feb 13, 2012 at 5:52 am

    I think Matt's vision and Labann's points are entirely compatible but to address the concerns both raise it still requires a group of interested citizens to work for implementation. So I hope folks will indeed join with RIBike as he suggests.

    It's never easy and there are a lot of challenges – choke-points and unruly dogs as mentioned above, inadequate funidng for the entire transportaion system, inadequate enforcement, old roadways and a road pattern that often provides few alternatives, and the prevalent free parking that encourages everyone who can drive to drive everywhere. But we have some things going for us: a dedicated core of bike supporters, coalition partners who can help us, reasonably sympathetic RIDOT and local governments, (but not in all cases!) a network of successful bike paths that have helped increase interest in biking, and a coming period of high gas prices providing incentives for alternate transportation.

  • Labann
    Feb 13, 2012 at 8:21 am

    RIBC has always been short on reciprocity. No compelling reason to post ideas or support. Consider their track record over a decade in this rotten state, which grows ever more bike unfriendly. Time for talk is long since past. Time for lawsuits against CFR violators, legislators, and traffic planners.

  • Matt Moritz
    Feb 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

    As always, thanks for particpating in the conversation Labann. Unfortunately, I'm afraid you'll have to bear with me here as I ask, What are you talking about and why are you here, posting to this site?

    RIBIKE is less than 2 years old, though certainly some of its members have been around and involved with bicycle and transportation in this state for longer.

    What do you mean by "short on reciprocity"? What are we meant to be reciprocating, to who and why?

    Much as there might be instances where a lawsuit is legitimate and warranted, they don't just happen because someone says they should. Lawyers and court fees take time and money that this organization doesn't have the resources at this time to pursue. If the membership and board were to make that a priority and worked to fund such a thing, it would happen.

    If you feel that suing cities, state agencies and others is the next logical step, and that talk is a lost cause, why do you keep posting comments on this site? Why do you spend so much of your time criticizing and belittling the people who are constructively engaging with planners, engineers, police, legislators, administrators, department heads, community groups, etc. as well as those professionals who have to work with budget and political constraints?

  • Andrew/A New Bike
    Feb 28, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Nice. I hope to heck you guys can pull that off. That will be the barometer for when bicycling parity has been achieved, when no one asks if you “road here”.