The Bike & Ped Commission could use your help on an issue. RIDOT has given them a plan for S. Main Street that has two highway width (12') lanes in a double one-way configuration. The long and short of this is that this is a major recipe for speeding cars and nastiness. Adding insult to injury, this is a case where the merchants' association for the street has actually asked for only one lane, and for traffic calming, so this is entirely at the behest of the state and against the clear wishes of the business community.
The BPAC is open to the idea of pushing for one of the 12' lanes to become a protected bike lane. They need your support to do this.
The RIDOT argument for having the road be so wide, and with two lanes, is that S. Main is an "emergency route" if there's ever need to evacuate the city or call in emergency vehicles. But Jarrett Walker at Human Transit writes that wide bike lanes, just like transit lanes, actually promote safety by keeping part of the road clear in case emergency vehicles need to get through:
Surface exclusive transit lanes (for buses, rail, and arguably two-wheelers and taxis) improve the performance of emergency services. This argument should be much more prominent, because even the most ardent car-lover will understand it. Few things are more distressing than to see an emergency vehicle stuck in traffic, sirens blaring. When confronted with this, all motorists do their best to help. But if the entire width of a street or highway is reserved for cars (moving or parked), and is therefore capable of being congested, it can be impossible to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle even if every motorist present has the best of intentions. Emergency response should be one of the strongest and most obvious cases for surface transit lanes. Motorists understand the need to drop to a low speed in school zones, to protect the life of every single child. Why do we not accept come degree of delay to save a child who may be dying somewhere else, because the ambulance is stuck in traffic?
It's possible to honor the needs of the merchant association, bicyclists, cars, and safety officials by adding a protected bike lane.
Please write eric [at] greenway [dot] org to let him know you support the protected bike lane. Eric is a supporter of this, but as chair of the BPAC he needs your voices to be heard so that he make his best case to RIDOT.