Bob Azar of the Planning Dept. met with the Bike & Pedestrian Advisory Commission tonight to discuss the proposed protected bike lane for Fountain Street in downtown. The protected bike lane would run from Empire Street to Dorrance and would then terminate.
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Discussion topics included whether the bike lane should be two-way (the Commission and the public were agreed that it should not, and should instead go eastbound towards the Biltmore Hotel), and whether it was possible to have a westbound protected bike lane to compliment it on a different street (Bob Azar said no).
Convention Center calls the shots Pressed on why the city could not implement a protected bike lane on Exchange Terrace/Sabin/Broadway, Azar said that the Providence Convention Center "objected to any change of the street" at all. Azar declined to comment on details except to say that the city had decided that the battle was not winnable on Exchange/Sabin/Broadway.
Protected bike lane? Maybe not. A protected bike lane was not the only option that Planning said was on the table. Other proposals included slanted parking with convention "door zone" bike lanes. (Update: Commissioner Nickerson says that the slanted parking included a protected bike lane. I don't remember it that way, but it's worth noting the discrepancy).
Parking neutrality? A member of the public commented to say that the city should consider allowing the removal of street parking if it is replaced in another nearby location. I commented as well to point out that the city is imminently building a publicly-financed 1,200 car garage within blocks of the location.
Regency Plaza to grab up part of Broadway? Commissioner Jef Nickerson of Greater City Providence asked that the city preserve the width of Broadway near the Regency Plaza complex. The complex, which has a large area of surface parking lots in between its buildings, has asked for the City of Providence to abandon part of the street to allow it to extend its property line. Nickerson, who has reported on the Regency Plaza street abandonment proposal before, stated that the city should plan bike infrastructure with the extreme width of Broadway so that it is ready with necessary width in case of an update.
The Planning Dept. should study "induced demand". Bob Azar commented during his presentation that the short stretch of protected bike lane on Fountain Street was all that the city could allow in order to accommodate traffic flow, but also expressed his commitment during prior negotiations to pushing for some kind of bike infrastructure. "I suspect that the biker mentality is that total gridlock would be okay, but we can't have that."
Studies have shown consistently that driving demand and congestion are extremely flexible, and that added bike infrastructure improves the commute times of drivers.