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Define Robust.

RI Bike has posted the full letter from the Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Commission addressing Mayor Elorza's administration with its priorities for improved bike and ped mobility in Providence. All of the goals are well thought out, and you can check out the full text either at RI Bike's website or at GCPVD.

I want to draw attention to one section on biking:

Focus on near-term improvements to four key areas that have emerged as clear priorities for improved bicycle infrastructure: 
a better connection between Downtown and the Washington Secondary bike path in Cranston; 
improvements to North Main Street, Canal Street, Olney Street, and Doyle Avenue to better connect the east side of Providence and Pawtucket to Downtown; 
more robust bicycle infrastructure on Elmwood Avenue, Broad Street, and Prairie Avenue to better connect South Providence to Downtown and Roger Williams Park; 
and improvements to Pleasant Valley Parkway, Oakland Avenue, and Dean Street to improve this important connection between the north-west sector of the city and the existing bike lanes on Broadway.
One word in particular stands out: robust. The BPAC is asking for connections from many parts of the city to Downtown, and the commissioners certainly have a clear idea of what they mean by that. The term "robust" though, is intentionally or unintentionally a kind of dog-whistle, though. Previous administrations at the state and city level have chosen to deal with biking through ineffective tools like signage, sharrows, or door-zone bike lanes. Each of these failed tools should be considered out-of-date and sub-par. It's clear that the BPAC's letter is attempting to usher in a new way, but one thing we don't want to allow is for the word "robust" to become watered down because of a lack of clarity about what it means upfront. 


So what do we think the word "robust" should mean? Biking solutions should follow one of two major paths:

Protected Bike Lanes are physically separated lanes for bikes, with appropriate treatments at intersections to avoid turning conflicts. These are most appropriate for arterials, and every arterial should have one.




Bike Boulevards are side streets where physical measures have changed the flow of through-traffic. Some streets may use speed bumps, bump outs, chicanes, diagonal diverters, or filtered permeability systems. 





Tweet us photos of a street you ride on, or of a street you'd like to ride on but feel too afraid to use. Tell us which of these you'd like to see applied to it @transportpvd.

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1 comment:

  1. Robust is subject to interpretation, for sure. Personally, rather than define it for myself, I'd like to know what the Commission intended.

    Certainly they believe that the infrastructure on Elmwood Avenue, Broad Street, and Prairie Avenue is already robust, because they want it to be "more robust."

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