I received a notification from RIDOT that
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is alerting motorists that the new striping pattern of three lanes (one lane in each direction with a center turn lane) on Route 44 in Smithfield, from Austin Avenue to West Greenville Road, will continue.
“Due to the success we have had thus far with this new traffic configuration, we have decided to continue it as we move forward with the construction project,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “It appears that the new traffic patterns have actually reduced speeds, acting as a traffic calming device, and helping to improve safety in the area.”
I have to admit, my initial thought was oh no… RIDOT has gone and done it again, they’ve added a turn lane by removing the breakdown lane on either side. So I followed up and was plesantly surprised to learn that:
nothing was taken away to make the center turning lane. This part of Rte. 44 is very narrow with 4 lanes and shoulders of 6 inches or less. The new configuration will have 2-foot shoulders – not as wide as most bike lanes, but an improvement over what’s there.
It’s great to see RIDOT doing the right thing for once. Naturally, I would have liked to see even more provided to the cyclists. However, I do have to give them credit for taking a road that was originally four lanes and dropping it down to three.