While away at the DNC, Mayor Elorza had a victory: his $40 million bond proposal passed through city council (it requires a second vote, and then submission to the ballot to be voted on in November). City councilors will not decide the individual projects, but moneys will be awarded evenly on a ward-by-ward basis.
One thing worth noting is that the bond priorities are not lining up with the percentage of Providence residents living without a car. While 22% of the city's residents live in a household with no car at all, just shy of 17% of transportation-related bond moneys will go to sidewalk projects, while the remainder simply goes to a catch-all streets category. One way the administration could fix this would be to put part of the streets funding ($1.3 million) to protected bike lanes. Minneapolis-Saint Paul recently dedicated $6 million to protected bike lanes, which they're flexing to create thirty miles of completely separated bike infrastructure. On our smaller budget, the city could easily connect a protected bike lane from Pawtucket to the Cranston border and also connect Olneyville Square to Downcity-- a significant leap for a city that barely has painted bike lanes, much less protected ones. Important to note is the fact that in Minneapolis the budget includes quite a lot of money towards things like signal reorganization-- creating special timed cycles to let cyclists get through-- and I'm not entirely sure those would be necessary at intersections where two lanes meet two-lanes. So we may even be able to do more for less.
Sidewalks are a really important part of a city. I'd like to see more detail on what we're spending towards on sidewalks. A big cost for cities is making sidewalks ADA compliant. You may not notice this if you can walk, but a few minutes in a wheelchair would open your eyes to the fact that many intersections still lack proper wheelchair ramps (or have them oriented in a way that makes crossing dangerous). One thing I think the city should explore is using protected bike lanes to help save on curb cuts for these ramps. If we create wide protected bike lanes, they can be used both for slower users in rascals and wheelchairs as well as more sporty ones on bikes, and the additional protection can help disabled users take advantage of (poorly placed) curb cuts that already exist. Not being a wheelchair user myself, I'd be open to hearing push-back from the community of people who are reliant on getting around that way, but here's a video that shows a bit where my thinking is coming
Sewers are a significant part of the budget as well. I don't really know what priorities the administration has towards sewers, but people should keep in mind that the more we're able to take advantage of road diets and other de-paving projects, the less sewer overflow we'll have (and perhaps, the less budgeting we'll have to put towards those concerns). Parks funding could and should be used towards "linear parks" when possible, so as to create greenery opportunities in neighborhoods where park space might not be available. So we should be thinking about how we can look holistically at these seemingly unrelated sections of the budget and working to get them synchronized.