The post below first appeared on the Bike Newport blog. Read More: National Bike Summit 2019
No. We’re not out of the woods yet. …
Rhode Island Department of Transportation Proposal Slashes Bicycle and Pedestrian Project Funding Statewide (Jan 26, 2019) The “Major Amendment to the State Transportation Improvement Plan” presented by RIDOT to the State Transportation Advisory Committee on January 24th includes 33% cut to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) over four years. TAP is the primary source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects statewide. According to a press release from the RI Bicycle Coalition: “While RIDOT asserts that shortfalls from the General Assembly’s Capital Budget, delays in constructing toll infrastructure, and deteriorating bridges are the cause of the amendment, very little of the proposed change will fund bridge work. Instead, one new $28.8 million highway project in western Cranston is one of the biggest proposed changes, along with large allocations to build toll gantries ($61.6 million) and ‘Headquarters Operations’ which includes more than doubling the ‘Legal’ line item to $24.9 million.” The $27 million in proposed cuts includes eliminating the $5 million Bicycle Improvements Contingency Account funded by the 2016 Green Economy Bond. Bike Newport’s Executive Director, Bari Freeman, sits on the state’s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and Bicycle Mobility Plan Committee, and is a member of the statewide coalition Paths to Progress that advises the state on bicycle and pedestrian project planning and funding. “The TAC created the contingency fund in response to these statewide coalitions and in order to ensure assignment of those funds to align with the statewide Bicycle Mobility Plan priorities. Those funds are untouchable. Our state electorate resoundingly voted those funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects by 79%,” Freeman stated. “That’s not approval – that’s a mandate, and they will not be redirected to highway or any project other than those for which they were intended.” The proposed amendment eliminates, cuts or delays funding to 35 bicycle and pedestrian projects statewide, including separated bike paths, sidewalks, and critical on-road connections. On Aquidneck Island, the Melville Connector and the Mount Hope Bay Path in Portsmouth will be eliminated; the shared use path and sidewalks on East Main Road in Portsmouth and Middletown will be eliminated; and scheduled improvements to Thames Street, Spring Street, Farewell Street, Bellevue Avenue, and Marlborough Street in Newport will be delayed to 2023 and beyond. Portsmouth Town Councilor Daniela Abbott is one of many bicycle and pedestrian advocates opposed to the cuts, “East Main Road is finally getting the sidewalks and bike paths so desperately overdue for transportation safety. These cuts are not considering people’s safety, connectivity, or economy. RIDOT needs to, and will be, better informed by the people of this state who intend to walk and ride to get where we’re going.” Bike Newport and Aquidneck Island Planning Commission are planning community information and discussion meetings to take place in addition to the upcoming public meetings scheduled by RIDOT. These meeting dates will be announced next week. For more information and updates, please follow Bike Newport online at www.bikenewportri.org and @bikenewportri on social media. The post ALERT: RIDOT Proposal Slashes Bike Funding appeared first on Bike Newport.
Dear Friends, Thanks to all who are following the situation with the DOT recommendation for a “Major Amendment to the TIP” aka Major Amendment #11. This amendment proposes major reduction to Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funding to make up for shortfalls in pavement and bridge funding. TAP funding is the primary source for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects. The first presentation of this proposal took place at the monthly meeting of the Rhode Island Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 5:30pm – Department of Administration, One Capitol Hill, Conference Room A. The meeting was open to the public. We’re all in this together! Everyone’s participation at meetings, discussions, and online in social media is always valuable. Let’s keep awareness high and information flowing. More public meetings coming soon. I am a member of the TAC but was unfortunately out of town for this important meeting. I asked my colleagues on the TAC to consider these requests at the meeting: 1) Please consider and honor the concerns of those community members in attendance. The proposed reduction to TAP funding included in RIDOT’s recommendations is staggering and has long-term and ominous implications to TAP projects already funded, and to the statewide progress on all things active transportation. Specifically, please consider the urgent request to extend the period of community comment from 30 days to 90 days to ensure that everyone affected has time to receive, process, and respond to the Amendment content and for DOT to gather and process that response for our informed consideration. 2) Although the State Bicycle Mobility Plan is not yet adopted, it contains information and recommendations culled and developed over many months by a statewide coalition of expert stakeholders which are significant to improved planning. These recommendations should be considered valuable and relevant by state and municipalities alike even in advance of formal adoption of the plan. 3) Additionally: Considering bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects as “alternative” – as in “Transportation Alternative Program” – and separating them in planning and funding is an outdated practice that inherently maintains a car-centric culture which is cost-inefficient in planning, design and building our transportation network. While we are beholden to the language of federal funding, there may be ways for us to use this time to demonstrate what is possible when we look at bicycle, pedestrian and transit planning/accommodation as part of pavement and bridge planning. Is this a time when we as a state can demonstrate the budgetary efficiencies of complete streets planning – ie considering all road users in every road plan. We need assurance of due diligence to serve the public interest and solicit their input. Public meetings should include presentations of the proposed changes and the public’s board – the TAC – needs to weigh these interests before making recommendations to the State Planning Council. With thanks to all for your commitment to better roads and transportation planning for all road users. Feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts or questions. Sincerely, Bari Freeman Executive Director The post Letter to the Public: Major Amendment to the TIP appeared first on Bike Newport.
Did you know Rhode Island and Massachusetts have draft statewide Bicycle Planning Guides? Massachusetts Department of Transportation has a ‘Draft Municipal Resource Guide For Bikeability,’ and Rhode Island has a draft ‘Bicycle Mobility Plan.’ Give them a read and see the future when all road users are treated equally and we leave car-centric planning behind. These plans share missions: Biking will be a safe, comfortable, and convenient (MA) and safe, fun, and practical (RI) option for everyday travel. They are encouraging and informative documents that assist people in choosing bicycles, and municipalities in planning for bikeable places. Well done, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We hope to see them adopted soon! The post Statewide Bicycle Planning Guides appeared first on Bike Newport.
Last week, RIBike joined Rhode Island representatives from Bike Newport, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival at the Women’s Bicycling Forum and the National Bike Summit in DC. We returned from three days of workshops and lobbying greatly inspired and ready to apply lessons learned to Rhode Island. The National Bike… read more
Both in DC and in RI there are serious threats to the continued development of our bike path system. The GOP dominated US House of Representatives is poised to pass a transportation bill that reduces transportation spending by almost 1/3 to match revenues generated by a Federal gas tax of 18.4 cents/gallon that has not… read more