It's time for Mayor Elorza to keep two promises he made during the campaign:
1. Providence bus passes for students who live more than two miles from school.
2. Providence quality infrastructure for biking: not painted bike lanes, and definitely not sharrows, but protected bike lanes or bike boulevards. The mayor specifically promised a protected bike lane connection up Broadway from downtown to Olneyville as a start, and the Hope Street Merchants Association has been quite clear that it wants to see that type of infrastructure for its business district too.
Here's the mayor talking about his strong support for bus passes.
Here's the thing about busing students: it's expensive, and as much as the average forty-year-old American journalist probably pines for a motorized trip to work, what most students are looking for is a fun, active way to get to school. Providing bus passes for students is the right decision now, but Mayor Elorza also needs to tabulate how much money the city could save by upgrading bike infrastructure. It will cost seven figures a year, every year, to bus students to school. What's making that busing necessary is that we don't have good 8-to-80 bike infrastructure. Spending a fraction of the busing budget on biking would help assure that we're not stuck with bus passes as a second-rate solution to student mobility.
Here's what everyday looks like in Portland, Oregon, a city much less dense (and much rainier and hillier!) than Providence:
And here's what it looks like in Assen, Netherlands, a rural community that has five or six times the biking rate of Portland:
Please contact the mayor, and tell him to keep both of his transportation promises. I supported the mayor because of his bold approach to transportation, and I will not vote for him again if he breaks his promises.