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#EntranceRampRI: East Bay Bike Path

The East Bay Bike Path is the premiere bike facility in the state. Some local bike advocates asked me to design a map showing changes that could be made to facilitate safer crossings on the EBBP. Intersections are often the most important detail to look at for bike infrastructure.


#EntranceRampRI is a hashtag for small bike improvements to the "bike highways" of Rhode Island. Our state has a large number of bike paths, but the connections to core cities remain a problem. Other EntranceRampRI pieces include Woonsocket and Valley Falls/Central Falls


Not only is safety an issue, but giving bicycles crossing priority is an added encouragement to longer-distance commuters, who may be able to do the trip from Bristol to Providence if allowed a straight-shot, but may not be willing to do the stop-and-go. This follows practice in the Netherlands, or even closer to home, Philadelphia.

There are more improvements that could be added that I didn't put on the map. Warren, for instance, has a stub of a bike path that it should connect to its main bike path, especially because the stub connects several schools to downtown, but that would require building a bridge. The improvements on the map fall into a few major categories, all of them much cheaper and faster to implement than that:
*Changing the direction of stop signs: in this case, stop signs don't even need to be procured, the staff-hours just have to be put into redirecting how they face in the ground. 
*Adding bump-outs: There are only a few sets of these, but they are in places that involve high levels of turning conflict. In the past this conflict has been handled by having bicyclists stop and wait. The approach I take is to have bicyclists have priority at intersections. 
*Speed tables: I did not put these at all intersections, but only those that seemed like they needed them. 
*I also added one diverter in East Providence, to keep out through traffic on a street that mostly doesn't see any. 
*I added one additional signal--probably by far the most pricey addition in this plan--to allow people to cross Memorial Boulevard to Lyons Ave.
Check Out the Map

I should be noted that the default behavior of drivers along this bike path is to be appropriately deferential to people on the path. The purpose of speed tables is to take care of the small number of drivers who do not show that care. On certain streets, like a few in the downtown of Warren, even drivers showing great care might be confused by the sudden appearance of a bike path. I'm surprised at how often drivers seem to stumble upon it, despite the fact that this is the busiest part of the path. These high-traffic locations should be high-priority, because they have the most potential for crashes, as well as the most positive potential for saving time to commuters (bicyclists easily outnumber cars on this section).

All of these improvements, except the signal addition at Lyons Ave. should be super cheap to accomplish, and should be done within the year as routine maintenance. The DPWs of E. Providence, Barrington, Warren, and Bristol should take them on, but if they for some reason did not agree, the changes are cheap enough that I think all but the signal could be crowd-funded.


1 comment:

  1. One trail crossing in Hadley, MA has rapidly flashing lights.

    I think that a series of photocells should detect the speed of fast-moving bicyclists, slower cyclists, runners and walkers approaching in both directions. It should time the flashers or red lights long before the people cross the intersection.

    --Paul Klinkman