RIBike Nation–PVD branch
Last week I attended a community meeting about the Eaton Street bike lane. If you are unfamiliar, it is a brand new bike lane over near Providence College. It is the very first installation that is part of Providence’s Great Streets initiative, which you can read more about here http://www.providenceri.gov/planning/great-streets/. When completed, the Eaton Street lanes will be separated and buffered with both cycle travel lanes on one side of the street.
The meeting was called by Ward 5 Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan after being inundated by negative comments from residents of the Eaton Street area. Of the 257 posts to a community board regarding the new bike lane, 256 were negative. Although I am not a resident of the neighborhood, I attended the meeting to hear the comments.
The residents who attended the meeting were overwhelmingly negative in their comments. Many were openly hostile. Of course, many of the complaints had little to do with the actual bike lane or cyclists–the bike lane complicated Uber service, food delivery and interfered with ingrained driving habits. Some complained about the rollout and the lack of signage. Most couched their comments as a grave concern for safety but seemed only concerned with driver safety, rather than considering all road users.
It was a bit difficult and disheartening, to say the least. However, it led me to the following thought. If our elected representatives only hear from those who are afraid of change or complain about having to consider vulnerable road users, we will never get the connected, safe, bike infrastructure we deserve and most people want.
So here’s the ask: go ride the Eaton Street lane and then contact your city councilor and ask when your neighborhood will have a great facility like that one. You can find the names and contact information for the Providence City Council here https://council.providenceri.gov/councilors/ Give your elected officials the ammunition to fight for the bike infrastructure that will protect vulnerable road users and bring many more people into biking. Do it today. The city wants to do the right thing and we can help them get it done.