South County News
Last year, Healthy Places by Design, an initiative in RI supported by the RI Department of Health via a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, selected South Kingstown as well as Pawtucket and North Kingstown for a pilot project. With strong involvement from volunteers, the town and the YMCA, 3 working groups have been meeting to advance a series of initiatives related to Villages and Neighborhoods, Access to Food and Biking, Walking and Recreation. Mark Fenton, a national expert on walking, has provided consultation. At a joint meeting of the 3 working groups, held on May 31st, the Biking, Walking and Recreation Working Group reported on the following actions:
- Much of the discussion revolved around biking to school efforts. Two of the SK elementary schools, Matunuck and West Kingston, were found not to be conducive to biking or walking activity due to location. Bad weather forced the cancellation of two planned Wednesday bike to school programs. Nevertheless, a regular group of about 5 has formed that bikes to Broad Rock on most days. To enable them to make this trip without an adult, it would be desirable to assign a crossing guard at the Oaks/Neighborhood Guild/library crossing. Could the guard at Broad Rock, where there is a light, be moved? Or, at least place orange cones, a flag bin, there. The cost of this is not known but can’t be too much.
- To educate kids about bike safety including wearing helmets and visible clothing, a fall bike safety event was suggested, near the beginning of start of the school year. Other suggestions were to paint bike lanes on the roads like through the Oaks, viewed as the safer option for reaching Broad Rock.
- Efforts to provide more bike racks downtown are underway, 3 near Healy’s, one at the kiosk across from Rhody Joe’s. Rep. Theresa Tanzi is seeking state funds ($3,000?) for more bike racks at schools. Due to narrow sidewalks downtown, it was suggested that a parking space might be used.
- A spring bike event held at the YMCA was deemed successful. Over 100 bikes were donated, fixed by volunteers and given out free. Two bikes were donated by Stedman and NBX and raffled off. Funds went to the Y. A ride on the bike path was held and a bike rodeo; Bob Votava provided some free bike helmets.
- Connecting URI into the South County Bike Path via Peckham Farm to encourage students and staff to use it more was discussed as a top priority for facility expansion. Also, funds previously gotten that need to be put into the TIP for improving the walkability of Tower Hill Road was discussed.
- Discussion with the town of Narragansett are underway to extend the Bike Path to the beach. Several alternatives are being studied.
- Rumble strips that were part of the entrance and exit ramps for Route 1 south of Wakefield and which posed hazzards to cyclists who had to cross these were removed this past year as part of a reconstruction of that area.
The next meeting of the Bike-Walking-Recreation working group is scheduled for June 28 at 6 pm at the Neighborhood Guild and is open to all.
Prepared by Karen Votava