Councilman Bryan Principe set up a meeting some months ago between Transport Providence and a variety of city services, city council members, and community organizations to discuss the idea of protected bike lanes on the West Side. Principe deserves praise from the neighborhood for his efforts on this issue. I've been especially impressed to see Mr. Principe talking excitedly to other councilpersons about the examples from Streetfilms of successful biking in the Netherlands, New York City, and other places. You may recall Councilman Principe as the guy who goes around the West Side and helps people shovel out their sidewalks while RIDOT leaves the sidewalks in its care completely unshoveled.
The conversation between different community members and city services had a long way to go, and at the time I decided not to report on it because I wanted to see where the process would go on its own. There hasn't been any additional motion forward since February, so I'd like to start the discussion up again.
There was some concern over the idea of changing parking arrangements on the W. Side by some participants, but thankfully there seemed to be some agreement that a compromise could be met eventually around protected bike lanes that would rearrange some parking but not all of it.
Our original proposal for Westminster Street was that it would lose both of its parking lanes due to extremely low parking occupancy. This proposal was met with strong opposition by the WBNA, although some of its members supported the idea and signed our petition, and one of its business members, Fertile Underground, was actually actively involved in the earliest planning and discussion around the idea. From what I've gathered, the plans for protected bike lanes are dead in the water unless we get the WBNA to go along, so if you're a member (like I am) then you should talk to them about how important this is.
Our new proposal is the creation of dual protected bike lanes on Broadway and Westminster which would remove only one parking lane from Westminster and keep parking completely the same on Broadway. Additionally, the proposal would add parking to the I-95 service roads in order to calm traffic there, re-making the three-lane one-ways into two-lane one-ways.
|Broadway would squeeze its existing bike lane space into a wider one-way bike lane, protected from traffic.|
|Westminster would lose one lane of parking for a protected bike lane. It's current parking occupancy hovers around 10% on the street, and many businesses have unfilled parking lots.|
Broadway and Westminster are already on the list to get repaving work done for the summer, according to a conversation I had with the city's parking department. The repaving makes temporary changes to parking difficult, said the city, but it also makes putting in changes to painted lines on the street extra easy. We should take this opportunity to re-think our streets.
If you bike on the West Side, please help push these plans forward!