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Elorza's Budget Empty on Bicycling

Will people be able to bike in the park, but not to the park? Elmwood Avenue, Providence.
While I have given early applause to Mayor Elorza's choice to bike to work everyday, it's now inching towards the territory where it becomes a symbolic fig leaf to cover a lack of real policy.
Just as this budget focuses on city services, it also focuses on quality of life. With both our new Parks Director and our new Director of Recreational Services, we have hired dynamic new leaders who are already hard at work on exciting plans to increase opportunities for healthy activity. As someone who rides his bike to work each day and who runs in Roger Williams Park each weekend, I am committed to supporting sports and recreation and to making Providence the healthiest and most active city in New England. Just this month, we received a Health Equity Zone grant to improve recreation programming and to help us achieve that goal.
As we take care of our bodies, we must also take care of our environment; and there is perhaps no greater global issue than that. I am proud of the partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation to invest in Roger Williams Park to forever keep it the cherished asset that it is.
I'm not objecting to the choice to invest in Roger Williams Park, which I think is a great goal. Nonetheless, the city needs to put actual money towards biking if it's going to grow as a transportation option, though. Roger Williams Park is a great place to ride your bike around in circles, and not at all an advance for low income people, children, elderly, or disabled people wanting more comfortable streets on the S. Side. 

I'm excited to see that the city is expanding parking meters throughout a variety of neighborhoods. We absolutely need to meter our high-demand parking areas if we're going to give a good turnover for parking spots. It's also a great way for the city to take in money, although I would like the city to think about returning parking meter money to businesses near the meters in order to encourage more neighborhoods to support metering, as is done in Pasadena, California and a number of other places under the tutelage of UCLA parking expert Donald Shoup. This is also the idea behind my proposal for a parking lot tax.

The city's still not going to deal with the tenant tax, where renters are taxed at a higher rate than homeowners through a higher tax bracket on rental property. I'm disappointed by this, but not as surprised.

Come on, Elorza! I don't want to give you a hard time like this, but this was a disappointment.



  1. I agree it is a disappointment.
    Another way to encourage bicycling, and raise revenue, is to enforce laws against dangerous driving (speeding, red light running...)
    The Mayor is apparently in support of a proposed streetcar that would cost over $100 million to build (and an annual operating deficit over $3 million) for only 1.6 miles, largely duplicating existing bus service. Sounds like a very foolish priority. What could a bicycle plan do with $100 million??
    The City Council Finance Committee has a hearing on a tax plan to finance this at 6pm on Thursday, May 14 at City Hall. It may be the only chance to weigh in.

    Barry Schiller

  2. Minneapolis just committed $6 million to protected bike lanes--30 miles worth (I actually think we could do ours for cheaper, because a significant cost factor in Minneapolis is signalization, and our streets, which tend to be 2-lane x 2-lane, could do without complicated signalization). Even dumber than the streetcar is the Pawsox stadium plan. I have criticisms of the streetcar, but can make my peace with those differences of opinion, but we shouldn't spend a nickel on the Pawsox. $6 million would have a much bigger effect in Providence, which has a quarter the layout of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and is denser (9,000+/sq. mile to Minneapolis' 7,000/sq. mile and St. Paul's 5,000/sq. mile, each over about 50 square miles, to Providence's 25). We should be taking the world by storm, and letting everyone know that Providence is the Groningen of the United States.