Welcome to Cycle Tracks, RIBike’s monthly bike advocacy email newsletter.
Welcome back to our regular email update on making Rhode Island more bike-friendly. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to join the coalition if you haven’t yet!
Feature: Light Up the Night
One of our most time-honored events at RIBike is Light Up the Night, where we hand out free bike lights to passers-by who are biking without lights. We always do it in the evening around this time of year, when it starts getting dark early.
Lights are perhaps the most important safety item when biking at night. We’ve gotten a grant from AAA Northeast the past few years to purchase the lights. This year, we’re doing the event twice. The first one, on Broadway in Providence’s West Side, resulted in thirty people in need of lights receiving them. The second Light Up the Night this year will happen in early December in South Providence. If you want to help hand out lights, let us know.
Feature: The Green Economy Bond passed!
We’ve been working on it for more than a year now, and we’re excited to report, amidst the mixed results of Election Night, that there is now $10 million more for connecting Rhode Island’s bike network than there was before! Yay!
Here’s how that money is going to be spent: it’s in the budget of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Their mandate from the Governor is to spend that money on 1) Bike projects that Rhode Islanders will see quickly, i.e. not just planning studies but actual construction, 2) Projects that connect our statewide bike network, and 3) Projects in diverse geographic areas of the state. They are not restricting the money to off-road projects, but also considering high-quality on-road infrastructure (i.e. protected bike lanes & clearly-indicated bike boulevards). That’s good, in our book, as it allows more bang for the buck. They also don’t want to displace funding that’s already in the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), so are especially considering projects not already funded in the TIP. While there won’t be a formal application process, DEM will seek the feedback of RIBike and other members of the Paths to Progress coalition that championed the bond.
It’s important to keep in mind that $10 million actually doesn’t go very far when it comes to building infrastructure. A rough approximation is that off-road bike paths cost about $1-2 million per mile, with high-quality on-road infrastructure costing at least an order of magnitude less than that. We expect the $10 million from the Green Economy Bond to go to approximately five small projects around the state.
Some priorities we have in mind:
- filling in the gaps of the Blackstone River Bikeway (in Providence, Pawtucket/CF, and Woonsocket),
- connecting the South County Bike Path to Narragansett Town Beach or URI,
- improving the connection between the Woonasquatucket River Greenway and downtown Providence,
- a section of the proposed South Coast bike route (Charlestown, Westerly, and S. Kingstown), and
- perhaps a section of the proposed Aquidneck Island Bike Path.
All of those combined would be well over $10 million, but we think there are a lot of good candidates in that list.
Do you have other suggestions of a project that meets DEM’s criteria? Let us know!
Help us make RI better for biking
We just put a new page up on our website for counts of bicyclists! If you want to take a count of how many people are biking through a high-bike-traffic area near you, it would be super helpful! Decision-makers always ask for data about how many people are biking when we talk with them about better bike infrastructure, and there’s not enough of it, so this is really important to our work.
We’re also working on launching our education program. If you want to help teach people about how to be smart about biking, we could use your help!
Also, our events & programs (e.g. Bike the Night, Bike to Beer, Bike Month, Bike Valet) all need your help to happen. The bike movement in the state can only excel with engaged people making things happen. Let us know if you want to help.
Finally, we’re seeking your stories for why you bike, or why you love biking. If you have a good story, we’d love to hear it!
As always, you can see what bike events are coming up on our event calendar.
- Want to see the world premier of a play about bikes? Manton Avenue Project, Recycle-a-Bike, and the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council have partnered on a show called Pedal Power: The Bicycle Play, to run December 1-4 in AS220’s Black Box Theater at 95 Empire Street in Providence.
- On December 8th at 5:30pm, you’re invited to attend the graduation event for the Health & Wellness Accelerator program at Social Enterprise Greenhouse, which RIBike has been participating in for a few months. You’ll hear our “pitch” as well as those from the other ventures in the cohort.
- On December 12th at 6:00pm is our monthly bike advocacy meetup at Flatbread Company in Providence. It’s casual and open to all, and it’s a great way to find out how you can contribute to all that’s going on.
- Mark your calendars! On December 14th, we’re going to have a holiday bike ride. Watch our social media (links below) for more information.
- Every First Wednesday at 5:00pm, NBX Providence hosts a flat tire repair clinic. The next one is December 7th.
Thanks for fighting for better biking, and we hope to see you at some of these events!