Tom Byrnes is a father of the East Bay bike path!
Judy Byrnes sent to RI Bike a large packet of info about how the East Bay Bike Path got built including newspaper clippings, various letters sent, and legislation filed. The latter is a copy of H7676 filed in March 1980 by Judy’s father, State Representative Thomas H Byrnes of Bristol which had provisions promoting bicycling, including the conversion of abandoned rail corridors to bikeways. Rep Byrnes headed up a committee to accomplish this which in turn stirred up significant oppositon from abutters, the RI State Senate, and town governments. One example in the packet is a letter from a member of the Squantum Club who was a friend of Presdient Reagan’s Chief of Staff, asking thr President to “squash” any bike path there. However, Tom Byrnes also rounded up supporters which included then Governor Garrahy, RIDOT officials including Director Ed Wood, engineet Joe Arruda, committee activists of course including George Redman but also Bob Weygand, the earlier version of the RI Bicycle Coalition then headed by Ann Moskol. One of their “action alerts” is in the packet, as is a letter I wrote as RI Sierra Club Transport Chair supporting the bike path. Tom Byrnes died in 2002 but not before founding a “Friends” group for the path, compiling its historical record, and having the Bristol section named for him.
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