As you may recall, RIDOT closed the Union Avenue Bridge on June 23, 2010. Paul Martens recently corresponded with RIDOT to find out what the bridge replacment will mean for cyclists. Here is their response:
The new Union Ave bridge will have the same design configuration as the old Union Ave bridge. There will be a 2 foot median, 2- 11 foot travel lanes, a one foot shoulder, and a 6 foot sidewalk, in each direction (Eastbound & Westbound). There is no special accomodation for bicycles on this bridge. Bicyclists will have to follow the standard traffic laws.
Naturally, we followed up to find out whether it was too late in the process for RIDOT to submit design changes. Assuming so, we also asked RIDOT to ensure there were curb cuts on all sides of the bridge so cyclists, who aren’t comfortable with being potentially squeezed, to opt for taking the sidewalk instead. Here is the answer we received:
It is too late to modify the bridge to include a lane for bicycles, this would be a major design change which would be very costly and time consuming. As for the sidewalks, I am not fimilar with the laws regarding bicycles on sidewalks, but there are wheelchair accessible ramps at each end of the bridge both Eastbound and Westbound.
Of course this begs the question, why when bicycle use and alternative forms of transporation are all the rage, isn’t every new bridge designed to allow for dedicated bicycle lanes? We’ve posed this question to RIDOT and will update everyone when we get an answer.