Report on the newport City Council Workshop regarding the RIDOT proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements to Memorial Blvd, Wed August 15, 2012:
The RIDOT plan was presented to the City Council by Bob Rocchio, RIDOT Manager of Traffic Management and Highway Safety; Peter Pavao, RIDOT Traffic Engineer; and Bill Desantis, Bike/Ped Corporate Director at VHB. It was a very informative and positive discussion focusing on the placement of the dedicated bike lanes, transitions to shared lanes and presence of wide buffer zones to keep cyclists at a distance from beachgoer street parking. Questions by the Council were thoughtful and helpful. Comments and suggestions by audience members were insightful and respected.
The configuration of thru lane, shared lane and dedicated bike lane changes over the length of the boulevard. Where there is no parking, a dedicated bike lane is present. Where there is street parking, there is either one shared lane, or two lanes – one thru and one shared. The plan considers reducing speed, maintaining traffic flow and accommodating volume. Additionally, the plan addresses pedestrian crossings and vehicular left turn lanes at the major intersection with Bellevue, adding left turn signals in all directions and replacing pedestrian crossing signals with countdown timers.
In other news: In his presentation, Bob Rocchio, , commended Newport on being proactive on safety issues in the context of both municipal and state Complete Streets initiatives. He shared that RIDOT would like Newport to be a pilot city for the new statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. This is very exciting and promising news and we look forward to being part of this major step for the state in backing up the Complete Streets promise.
The progress reported here is significant, and is thanks to RIDOT, the Newport City Council, Mayor Harry Winthrop, Rep. Peter Martin, City Manager Jane Howington, Director of Public Services Bill Riccio, and the many residents who volunteer their time and talent in the best interest of cyclists and pedestrians. We extend our appreciation to all.
Yesterday, the State House announced that RIDOT has four proposals for road improvements in Newport before the State Traffic Commission:
1) Rebuild the railroad crossings at Elm and Poplar Streets
2) installation of a crosswalk on America’s Cup just south of the Brick Market.
3) a crosswalk on Memorial Blvd at Thomas Street, and
4) the redesign of Memorial Blvd following a fatal bicycle accident in June.
These recommendations are excellent news for ALL users of our roads – agreeing in spirit and in practice with Complete Streets resolutions passed by both the City of Newport and the State of Rhode Island.
As we’re moving forward carefully and steadily, major strides are being made here in Newport – in particular for the cycling community.
In April, our City Council passes a resolution to work together with Bike Newport to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, potentially the first certified Bike Friendly Community in Rhode Island.
In June, we celebrated the first bicycle road marks in Newport, when the City marked a route from Bellevue to Fort Adams in time for the America’s Cup World Series. The payoff was more than 600 people trading cars for bikes to attend the event, contributed to a significant reduction in traffic congestion. That success is now the model for the upcoming Folk and Jazz festivals.
Weeks later, we’re facing the second road mark, a major road improvement, potentially the first bike lane on Aquidneck Island.
By marking Memorial Blvd, we’ll dramatically improve the understanding of road sharing on one of the busiest thoroughfares in the City. We’ll establish rules and protocol for road sharing that will help establish better practices throughout the City. We’ll provide a road sharing structure for our police officers to support and enforce. We’ll have our first efforts be a joint effort of city and state. And we’ll have a model in place that we can continue to replicate.
Because the Memorial Blvd project will be limited to road markings, it can potentially be completed by the end of August. RIDOT will come to town very soon (stay tuned for the announcement) to present their plans to the public. Meanwhile, the City Council is reviewing the plans to render their official opinion.
Thank you to Representative Peter Martin, to RIDOT and to our City Council for moving things along efficiently and deliberately.