This Friday marks a very special event in our state capital – Park(ing) Day is an annual global event where artists, designers, activists, and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and Transport PVD have helped to organize the inaugural Park(ing) Day in Providence, where 35 “parklets” will occupy parking spaces outside businesses throughout the city.
From the Downtown Providence Blog:
“On Friday, September 20th, you’ll get a chance to linger within temporary 170-square foot on-street enclaves. As part of PARK(ing) Day, an annual world-wide event that raises awareness about the need for pedestrian-friendly spaces within urban environments, 35 parking spots will be redesigned as small public parks. The rule for the day is: if you can park a car in it, you can have a park in it.”
We at Bike Newport are thrilled to be participating in the festivities by leading a mini-bike tour of the parklets in Providence’s West Side and Downcity neighborhoods. We will leave from Saint John’s Park at Atwells & Vinton Streets at 12 PM. The route will be relatively slow, and will take about one hour to complete. As always, helmets are required to be a part of the ride.
Here’s a map of the route:
Hope to see you there!
Calling all artists and bike lovers!
Announcing an open Bike Newport T-shirt contest: send us your ideas for a rad bike shirt and we’ll print the winning design(s)! You do not have to be a Newport, or even Rhode Island resident– just someone who can illustrate the joy of cycling. Deadline is Oct. 15. Let your creative juices flow!
It’s 5:30 p.m. on a weekday summer evening on Broadway, and the sidewalk in front of Leo’s Market is bustling with bikes and bike paraphernalia. Boxes of helmets, locks, lights, reflective vests, and bells line the popular storefront where, according to owner Juan Campos, 80% of the clientele arrive by bike. The swishing of tire pumps, jangling of bells, and laughter of cobbled Spanglish fills the air as bicycles in all manners of style and function get outfitted for safe night riding.
This is Night Bright – an initiative of local advocacy organization, Bike Newport. The organization aims to make nighttime bike commuting safer for both cyclists and cars. “When an invisible cyclist suddenly appears, it’s a pretty scary encounter for both the cyclist and the motorist,” says Bari George, Bike Newport’s Executive Director. “We’re always encouraging cyclists to have equipment to see and be seen at night.”
Not only is it safer to have lights on your bike, it’s also the law. A Newport city ordinance requires a bicycle operating at night to have a white lamp on the front and a red reflector on the back. The problem is, not everyone can afford the equipment. That’s where the annual Bike Newport Night fundraiser came in – when local cycling supporters gathered for a mid-winter party at Thames Street’s SpeakEasy and raised the needed funds. Generous donations from NewportFed and the RIDOT Highway Safety Program will make even more equipment possible – up to 300 sets in total. Each set includes a helmet, front light, rear light, reflective vest, bell, lock, and vital “Rules of the Road” information cards.
Tom Kearns, owner of Ten Speed Spokes, supplied the lights at cost. He emphasizes the importance of proper lighting and reflection, no matter what the weather.
Kearns says, “Lights are important no matter what. As much as you think you’re in a bike lane, the guy in the car might not realize it. You can’t think you’re in this cone of protection – you have to be aware of your surroundings all the time. Always ride on the defensive.”
For the bicycle-dependent workers of Newport, Night Bright is supplying that crucial defense. Tonight is the second week of the distribution at Leo’s, and it’s going superbly. Bike Newport staff and volunteers install the lights and bells, make sure helmets fit properly, and hand out Rules of the Road cards printed in both English and Spanish. There are many familiar faces from last week – riders whose bikes were already outfitted bring a spare, bring the bike of a friend or relative, or just come to hang out and chat. Julio, who works in the kitchen at the Viking Hotel, was here last week. He stops at Leo’s after his day shift atop a shiny black mountain bike. He says the lights he received “have been great for riding home.”
The vast majority of the cyclists are men who, like Julio, work in the hospitality or restaurant industries. Yolando, who’s employed at 41° North, says he “loves riding home from work” after a long shift. Like all service industry jobs, the busy night shifts don’t get out until around midnight or later, making for a dangerous ride home.
Campos smiles as he dons a bright yellow Night Bright reflective safety vest. Safety is a big concern for him. “Last year alone, there were several accidents,” he says. “Not major accidents, but they ended up in the hospital. Wear a helmet, because it’ll save your life.”
While adjusting the elastic straps on a cyclist’s helmet, George says, “It’s been exciting to see this dream turn real. And the support of the bike shops makes it happen. It’s a really fine indication of what we can do together as a community. Hopefully we’re modeling it for other communities as well – let’s just get people lit! If you know there’s a problem, deal with it, address it, and make it better.”
Night Bright will continue throughout the fall at Leo’s Market, neighborhood churches, and places of employment. Suggestions from the public for distribution locations and times are welcome and may be emailed, along with requests for more information, to email@example.com.
George stresses that Night Bright is a reminder that every rider needs to be visible at night. Bike Newport urges all cyclists to be safe, smart, and legal by riding with lights, bell, helmet, and reflective apparel. Local suppliers include Ten Speed Spokes and Newport Bicycle in Newport, and Pedal Power in Middletown. See and be seen!
Autumn is fast approaching, and with it the back-to-school rush. Organizations and companies all over the country will relinquish the talents and hard work of their interns, and Bike Newport is no exception. You may have seen these two young men about town at our various events and rides. We could not have executed our programming this summer without Rob Dowler, 17, and Kyler Dillon, 16.
Both Rob and Kyler got their start as bike mechanics two years ago at the Bike Garage at the East Bay MET School, where they’ll be juniors this fall. They both credit the MET’s Community Learning Specialist and Bike Newport Board Member Steve Heath with enticing them into learning how to fix bikes.
“I always liked bikes,” Rob says. “I just didn’t know much about them– how they work or how they’re built. I had limited knowledge.”
Kyler agrees, saying he didn’t know much before, but now: “I just like working on the bikes themselves. I ride everywhere so it’s not a chore, it’s enjoyable.”
Both guys say they like to work with their hands and fix things in general. Rob interned with a commercial retail boat repair company his sophomore year, while Kyler takes apart and fixes computers. Now however, they prefer bikes.
When asked about their favorite event of the summer, Rob and Kyler immediately respond that working at the Folk Festival giving tune-ups and helping to park the nearly 2,000 bikes that swarmed Newport that weekend was the highlight of their summer internship. “It was a bit of a grind,” Rob says, “but totally worth it.”
The paid internships are funded by the East Bay Community Action Project’s Summer Jobs Program spearheaded by Steve Dolce. Mark Chesterton, Bike Newport’s Director of Youth Programs, has been directly supervising Rob and Kyler since he was hired in March. He says, “We are so fortunate to be able to secure funds to employ youth in such meaningful, fun and community-minded work.”
Although they’ll have to devote the majority of their time to being high school students, Rob and Kyler will still help Bike Newport out at various after-school programs and events. We thank them so much for their hard work! You guys rock!
On Thursday, March 22, we learned the tragic news of a cyclist’s death at the east end of Purgatory Road in Middletown. A beautiful well-traveled, oft-cycled area approaching Second Beach. The news that the cyclist was riding the steep eastbound READ MORE