The East Bay Bike Path (EBBP) is a fantastic asset to the ocean state. Of all the bike paths in Rhode Island, I think this one is the biggest attraction. I say that not because it is necessarily the best bike path we have, but it definitely seems to be the most popular.
Last weekend we took our first EBBP ride of the season from East Providence to Bristol. I believe the ride is about 13 miles, and though you can technically start at India Point Park, negotiating the Washington Bridge is still a bit intimidating. Fortunately, there are a couple parking lots for the path right in East Providence.
The EBBP has a real tourist-destination feel to it. There, you are sure to see people showing off their newest gear, their spandex sportswear, and their bright canary-yellows. But you’ll also see individuals and families roller-blading, fishing, dog-walking, or simply strolling.
It’s still pretty early in the biking season in Rhode Island, the trees don’t even have leaves on them yet, but there were a few patches of daffodils along the path, and despite the cold breeze off the water, it looks like all the ice cream shops are open!
Ice cream and ocean are what I think give this path its tourist-y draw – not that that’s a bad thing. On the contrary, I celebrate it. Where else can you have a great workout with views of pretty people, sailboats, ocean, and stop for an ice cream and/or lunch along the way. One of our favorite routines is to bike south towards Bristol and have lunch at Thames Waterside Grill. There, we get only a few funny looks when we show up in our helmets and ask to sit outside on a chilly day desperate and determined for it to be spring.
Of course, this path, with all its popularity, does have its downsides beyond just the ocean’s gusts and crowds of salmon. There are a lot of cross streets, and each one comes with a stop sign. If you’re in the mood to get on the bike and just blast off for a power ride, this is not the place.
I really don’t understand the stop sign plan here, though. I know that at busy streets it’s prudent to stop and look both ways, and on the roads I do; I even stop at red lights like a good cyclist. But many of these intersections on the bike paths are not busy, perhaps even private driveways, like to the Exxon Mobile property or the Squantum Club. Is it really necessary to come to a complete stop if you can clearly see that there is no traffic? I submit that it is not. As such, I would propose that having stop signs installed where someone self-powered on two wheels is not inclined to stop is setting a bad example. Putting a stop sign where you know someone isn’t going to actually stop, is kind of like saying, “Hey, this is Rhode Island, it’s ok to ignore stop signs. Heck, in some cases we just put them up willy-nilly.” What I’m getting at is, shouldn’t these be Yield signs indicating one must simply yield to traffic?
Despite this, I do, very much, enjoy this bike path, and it is a real Rhode Island treasure that we look forward to every spring. I feel pretty fortunate that, in this little state we call home, we can go a couple miles and feel like we’re on vacation.