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Part 1: Mark Baumer Reflection: Impounding Vehicles & Immigrant Rights

This is part of a multi-part reflection I've been doing following the death of my friend, Mark Baumer . There's nothing graphic i...

Bridges to Somewhere and Bridges to Nowhere

Streetfilms has a great new piece on Copenhagen's many bike and pedestrian bridges. Blogger blocks me from embedding non-Youtube videos, but check out the link.

Where's the Pedestrian Bridge? 

Dr. Timothy Empkie (Twitter @42HopeStreetBus) has been keeping weekly progress reports on our own pedestrian and bike bridge.
The bridge is five years behind schedule.

Nine Bridges to Nowhere
RIDOT's plan requires rebuilding nine highway bridges, and adding several
skyway bridges. The boulevard plan needs fewer and shorter bridges.

RIDOT continues to publicly pursue the rebuild of the 6/10 Connector, a billion dollar project that will require nine bridges. The boulevard plan proposed first by Moving Together Providence and now supported by the community group Fix the 6/10 allows those bridges to be greatly shortened, saving money. RIDOT's plan is nine bridges to nowhere.

In addition, RIDOT's plan calls for skyway bridges to connect BRT stops, while the boulevard allows bus riders to simply cross the street at-grade.

The Boulevard proposal allows for cheaper and more attractive ways to connect people.

The City of Providence will be hosting a community discussion on 6/10 August 30th (see the bottom of the page). Please attend. 

A Bikeway to Nowhere

I'm not a fan of the plan to build a 0.7 mile bike connection between the East Bay Bike Path and Blackstone Blvd. At $2.5 million, this project is a drop in the bucket compared to many car-oriented projects, and ultimately I agree it will make a nice recreational addition to the city's biking opportunities if built. But for the same amount of money, Providence could have a lot more protected bike lane infrastructure in more useful locations. Minneapolis is building 30 miles of protected bike lanes for $6 million. That project includes changes to signals and other improvements that would not necessarily be required for all Providence projects (Minneapolis has bigger roads than Providence).

The argument for building this segment is that it will take people off of Gano Street, which I agree is a nightmare of nasty cars. But Gano is wide enough to get a protected bike lane. Tepid city officials are afraid to remove parking from part of the street, despite the fact that it has very little occupancy.

The path section, if built, would let out at the bottom of a steep hill on the East Side's mansion district. It's hard for me to see this as something that would connect more people to non-recreational biking, while it seems to offer an excuse not to deal with parking issues in the city.

Expressway to Nowhere
Another Bridge to Nowhere in the state is the Henderson Expressway. The Henderson Bridge (or "Red Bridge") goes somewhere, but the expressway stub connected to it does not. The state should strongly consider making the Red Bridge a car-free bridge and connecting a bike path to nearby Orlo Elementary School, which is currently bounded by high-traffic on East Providence's Broadway as well as the Henderson Expressway itself. I-195 offers many ways to get into and out of East Providence by car. Following the Dutch or Danish model would mean making some direct routes only for bikes, pedestrians, and transit.



  1. Regarding Copenhagen, you might enjoy this: http://www.freeskatemag.com/2016/07/28/2015-cph-open-recap/

  2. I like the Gano Park bikeway on principle. Kids shouldn't be riding on Gano Street where lots of cars make turns across the sidewalk area into businesses.

    I'd rather see the city use its collective noodle to build the north end of the bikeway sideways across the steep-sloped parkland found to the south side of Angell Street, or else through the city's parkland in back of the Lincoln School. When the California Department of Transportation really wants to build a Pacific Coast Highway on the side of a near-cliff, they can do it! Why not a much smaller bikeway? If done correctly (well, ok, we're talking DOT here) the bikeway should be an easy-enough upgrade for northbound cyclists.

    Bonus: a dedicated and fully separated bikeway belongs on the east side of Blackstone Boulevard. The current bikeway lines are ignored when somebody wants to pass your car on the right.

    NYC's High Line park should be an inspiration. NYC really needs a brand new elevated bikeway/walkway from its West Side Bikeway over to Central Park. Of course, they'd have to invent bicycle elevators/escalators to get cyclists upstairs quickly. Once invented, everybody would say that a bike elevator is the most natural thing in the world, a great and obvious way to cross a four lane highway.

    -Paul Klinkman, anonymous as usual

  3. The path is the least wasteful thing I mentioned here. The path is $2.5 million for almost a mile, compared to $1 BILLION for about the same length of the 6/10 Connector. But doing protected bike lanes would be an order of magnitude cheaper, and would allow us to connect a grid of central locations (this path feels a tad peripheral to me, because of the hill it drops off at).

    Even building this for recreational purposes, it would be worth it in tourism money and health savings, but I just wish the city/RIDOT would have a broader plan-- ultimately we have to address the unbikeable conditions on Gano too. This doesn't replace that.

  4. I disagreed with you some months ago at the BPAC about the Gano extension, and I'll stand by that now. You've written before about how great our bike highways are -- but how good can they be if they dump you into a dangerous street like Gano? "Mansion district" or no, Blackstone is both a heavily used recreational amenity AND a critical commuter route that allows people to get to Pawtucket pretty safely (recognizing that, yes, improvements should be made). I use it regularly on my way to Bristol. Gano is not as wide as you think, particularly close to the intersection with Waterman, and in any case it would be pretty unpleasant even if it had a PBP - it's just as bad of a hill as the one at Pitman. Several of my colleagues have been hit and injured on Gano - it's not a good or safe alternative, and this project will resolve the issue.

    Also nb there are discussions about repurposing one of the spans of the red bridge so it is bike/walk with the other 2-way. absent big $ to actually tear out the interstate-like infrastructure, this is a pretty ok solution in my book.

    1. I certainly agree that no one should be dumped onto Gano as it is, I just think it's really important for us to make Gano safe with protected bike lanes. I don't know if I buy the prediction that we can't make Gano safe once it has infrastructure. If you look at a before-and-after of the streets of many Dutch cities, they often look like a version of Gano (or worse).

      I say go ahead and build the bike path, if we want, but we need to have a plan to connect a grid throughout the city, and that grid could cost the same as this tiny span but cover a lot more area.