As you may know, RIDOT is about half way through a major sidewalk renovation and parking diet along Hope Street in Bristol. They current plan is to remove one lane of parking along the downtown stretch, to widen each of the lanes to make it safer for all road users; many car mirrors have been lost along this stretch. During the project, they have reduced Hope Street to one-way heading North and directed Southbound traffic down Thames Street. With two months left in the project, one of the council members suggested that the town should consider whether the split traffic pattern should be left in place, post construction. I attended the meeting to ask that the needs of cyclists be considered during these discussion, as is now required by the passage of the Complete Streets legislation. Further, I requested that I be included as part of the group/committee meeting to discuss this matter. I left with the impression that the council was willing to have me engaged in the process and I’ll provide an update as we go along.
As part of my message to the council, I took an opportunity to congratulate them on their parking change along Thames Street. The town recently re-striped half of the angled parking spots to be used for back-in parking. There has certainly been some confusion on the part of drivers, as they try to negotiate their cars to do nose in parking, and I’ve heard some rumors of reversing the decision to change this parking back to more traditional nose in parking. I strongly encouraged them to weigh such a decision in terms of safety rather than motorist convenience or comfort, citing that motorist should be expected to know how to operate reverse on their cars and that I’d much rather have those uncomfortable backing up do so into static objects rather than moving traffic. I believe that this discussion will be rolled into the overall long term traffic pattern discussions, so I should have a chance to continue to advocate for cyclist safety.