RIBike Annual Meeting 2016
On Tuesday, October 18th, RIBike held its Annual Meeting at the offices of Cleverhood in Providence’s West Side. It was a great time, with pizza from Pizza J and beer from Revival Brewing. You can read our press release, but we also wanted to provide an overview of the presentation for those of you who want more detail about what RIBike has been up to this past year. Enjoy!
One of the longest-running programs at RIBike is Light Up the Night, where we provide bike lights free of charge to people who are biking at night without them. Bike lights are arguably an even more important part of biking safely than helmets, as they increase your visibility to drivers. We’ve had great success with the program, and we’re happy to report that we’ll be doing it again this fall, in early November right around the Daylight Savings Time change. If you want to help hand out lights, let us know.
One of the most popular events we started in 2015, just after last year’s Annual Meeting, is Bike the Night. In collaboration with the Office of Mayor Jorge Elorza, we’ve organized casual group bike rides around Providence. Originally monthly, these rides are now quarterly, and they continue to be a lot of fun. Part of our mission is to cultivate a strong community of bicyclists and provide low-stress opportunities for people who don’t have a lot of experience bicycling to give it a try. Bike the Night satisfies both of those goals.
We also seek to cultivate a better physical environment for bicycling, and that means advocacy at the state and local level for more & better bike lanes & paths. Nearly all big transportation projects the state builds need to be part of the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). That outline for the next ten years’ projects was being put together in late 2015 and early 2016, for approval in September 2016. We engaged thoroughly in the process, both through staff attending meetings to coalition partners serving on the Transportation Advisory Council which oversaw the process. While some critical projects are included in the approved plan, we were quite disappointed at the overall allocation of funding for “Transportation Alternatives” which includes both bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. While 11% of trips are made by foot and bike and 14% of roadway fatalities are bike/ped, only about 2% of funding goes to improvements for these road users. RIBike will continue fighting for transportation infrastructure that actively encourages Rhode Islanders to bike, rather than bike lanes & off-road paths that are just an afterthought in a car-dependent status quo.
While off-road bike paths are an essential part of our statewide bike network, the gaps between them and between places people want to go are places where we need better on-road bike accommodation. Rhode Island is about 10-15 years behind other states in the standards we use for bike lanes, and we need to catch up. We’re thrilled that through the Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission we’ve been able to influence decisions about street design. Because of this work, Olney Street and Fountain Street in Providence are both getting much-needed bike lanes this fall. Our coalition partners contribute to additional advocacy across the state, and we look forward to helping create excellent comprehensive bike plans for both the City of Providence and the State in 2017.
We’ve organized a Bike To Work Day event in Providence for a number of years, but this year we upped the ante: we organized a whole month of events in May, which is National Bike Month. It’s also officially Rhode Island Bike Month, after the kick-off proclamation & ride with Governor Raimondo on May 1st. Along with our coalition partners, we organized more than 30 different events for Bike Month this year.
One of those Bike Month events was like nothing ever seen before anywhere in the country or world! In collaboration with Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council and Confluence Placemaking, we organized Tour de Tentacle, a, H.P. Lovecraft-themed bike scavenger hunt around Providence on Friday the 13th. It went off so well that it’s happening again, on October 30th. Get your tickets now!
In case you haven’t heard about it, there’s a huge conversation going on right now about what will happen with the 6-10 Connector, whose bridges are in very rough shape. This is the section of highway around Olneyville Square, connecting 6 West (out to Johnston) with Route 10. There’s a diverse coalition of groups we’re very involved with that is advocating for a re-visioning of the corridor to connect the urban fabric together better and encourage shorter, more bike-friendly trips. You can read more on the Fix the 6-10 coalition website.
We’ve been a member of the Hub at Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) for more than a year now, and we love the nurturing environment they provide for social ventures. A big motivation for our involvement has been to access SEG’s resources around developing revenue-generating programs. We’re taking the next step for that effort this fall, with our participation in SEG’s Health & Wellness Accelerator. This program provides us with assistance in developing our business plan and thinking about the long term business health of RIBike. We’re thrilled to be a part of it, and we’ll keep you posted about the new ideas that come out of it.
We’ve been working on this one for more than a year, too. It started as the Paths to Progress group advocating for connecting & expanding the state’s bike path network with new funding sources: a bond referendum. Paths to Progress was successful, and after the Governor and then the state legislature approved the bond, it’s on the ballot this fall! It’s Question 6, the Green Economy Bond, and $10 million of the $35 million in the bond would go toward the development of bike paths. We’re hopeful that the bond will pass, and we will see a few segments of bike path built sooner than they otherwise would.
Finally, we’re happy to announce that we received a grant from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s Office of Highway Safety. The grant is for developing our educational programming to teach more Rhode Islanders smart cycling skills. There are three parts to the program. First, we will offer smart cycling classes around the state, mostly to elementary school students but not entirely. If you know of a school or other group that would be interested in hosting a smart cycling class, let us know. Second, we will bring in a national trainer to certify more cycling instructors in Rhode Island, so the state’s capacity for teaching smart cycling skills will increase. Third, we will develop a state bicycling guide based on our Commuter Guide, the smart cycling curriculum, and maps of where good places to bike are.
Finally, the only way we can succeed in cultivating a physical & social environment in Rhode Island that encourages bicycling is if we have a movement of people working together. That means we can’t just do it if it’s just individual people working on everything. We need your help. We need you to lead. See the form below to let us know how you want to do that!
That’s all! Thanks for reading. As a reward, here’s a video we showed at the Annual Meeting about the importance of bike advocacy and good bike infrastructure from Montreal and Toronto: