Greater City Providence

Read the Providence Bicycling Master Plan


Mayor Taveras introduced the updated Providence Bicycling Master Plan this morning at a press conference at Pleasant Valley Parkway where new bike lanes were recently striped.

The Master Plan is meant to be a living document and the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission will be accepting further comment on the plan.

[alert type=”success”] Download the Plan [/alert]

Update: Press release from the Mayor’s Office

Mayor Angel Taveras, Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Unveil City’s Bicycling Master Plan

‘Bike Providence’ promotes a bicycle-friendly culture, expands City’s bicycling network

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras, joined by members of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, unveiled Bike Providence, the City’s bicycling master plan today. The plan promotes a bicycle-friendly city culture, sets priorities for bicycling improvements, guides the investment of future funding for the Providence bicycle network, and expands the citywide network.

“The Bike Providence plan reflects our commitment to biking and other forms of alternative transit, and offers a comprehensive blueprint for future investments that will make Providence an even friendlier community for bicycling,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “I thank the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission for their efforts. This work is an investment in a healthier community, cleaner air, and a bicycle-friendly culture for all.”

The master plan will continue to be evaluated as it is implemented and can be updated periodically as conditions and funding sources evolve. The plan serves as a framework for improving the existing bicycling system, increasing bike use and emphasizing the “five E’s” to improve the overall environment and culture of bicycling in the City: Engineering; Education; Encouragement; Enforcement; and Evaluation.

“The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission is excited about the new bike plan and what it will mean for community livability and economic development for our city,” said Eric Weis, chair of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and trail coordinator for the East Coast Greenway.

The project was funded by a Planning Challenge Grant from the Rhode Island Division of Planning, and was developed by the City’s Department of Planning and Development, the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, and consultants from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Public input, as well as the review and recommendations of the Commission, helped to shape the plan.

Several bicycling improvements have already been made, including the addition of two striped bike lanes on Pleasant Valley Parkway and shared lane markings on Olney Street and Potters Avenue in coordination with the Providence Road Improvement Project, an effort to repair and rebuild nearly 65 miles of roads.

[alert type=”warning”]Full disclosure: I am a member of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.[/alert]

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • In the beginning is some acknowledgement of the main problem: Except within certain “Islands” you can’t get there from here without traveling in conditions too stressful for all but the most macho rider. But too bad, kiddies.

    “…conditions do not provide many realistic opportunities to construct separated bikeways (bike lanes, cycle tracks or off-road shared-use paths) that require widening of existing roadways or relocation of on-street parking…”

    Parking uber alles.

    So there will be some sharrows and signs! And a bike lane or two on some quiet, out of the way streets.

    And Enforcement! – Bust cyclists for rolling through stop signs. I could find nothing about enforcement of speed limits or yielding by drivers.

    I could find nothing in this plan that will significantly change what a bicyclist faces trying to get around this city.

  • Can you please put bike racks at the train station? It’s way too crowded with bikes now. We can’t encourage more bike riding if there’s no place to put the bikes. Thanks.

  • I’m asking people who see flaws or omissions in the bike plan to tweet their suggestions with the hashtag #pvdbeyondsharrows. I’ve already gotten some feedback from people, but I’m really hoping for more.

    I haven’t finished looking over the plan and writing about it (I hope I’ll publish something to my site soon), but in general I hope that people coalesce any disappointments they have in the plan towards constructive goals of organizing. This is such a small city that I can’t imagine we won’t be able to muster a better, more comprehensive plan sometime soon. In a way, what’s lacking from the plan is an opportunity to draw attention to what’s needed.

  • It looks like at the BPAC is planning to take ownership of the living document that is the bike plan. Instead of sending suggestions into tenuous and temporary twitterverse, bring suggestions for refinement to the BPAC meeting, at least in that venu, there’s some chance they can be discussed and revisions to the document can be suggested to whoever at the city now “owns” the document, its life, and overseeing its implementation.

  • Also, please consider discussing bike plan elements with fellow bikers at the next meeting fo the RI Bicyce Coalition (6pm 11/11 at Brown Bookstore) which being an organization has representation at the RIDOT Roundtables, at the State Planning Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee and at the Coalition for Transportation Choices (which meets with the Governor etc)

    As for the plan, I suggest advocating for the one place that a significant off-road elenment can be implemented which is along a Bay Commission right of way behind Gano St. And with little opportunty elsewhere for much infrastructure improvement, I appreciate Andrew’s comment on enforcment against dangerous driving – in addition to speeding and failure to yeild, I would add drunk driving, distracted driving, reckless driving. In my opinion the “complete streets” crowd tends to ignore this aspect of making streets safer for everyone.

  • I’m surprised that there is no proposed bikelane on the 4 lane part of North Main Street. even if there’s no demand for it, it’s a good excuse to make the road narrower for cars and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • @Mark Moreno, I’ve spoken directly with VHB about North Main and RIDOT won’t touch it for all the tea in China. Nothing will get in the way of the BRT 99/11. It’s obvious that it’s a highly used route; with full-length tracking from the software and 5 accidents.

    My main criticism of this work from years ago is that they act as though there are no hill in this city. Thanks to many complaints, the psycho hill on Cyprus is no longer a marked route. But they clearly don’t want to make bicycle-style routes a part of the plan. (Anybody ever ridden the Wiggle in SF? I have.)

    I’m heartened to see that Camp St. has made the cut, which is a far better route than Hope St. But Brook St. did not, which is a big mistake. It also is a highly used route that goes up the soft belly of College Hill.

    But @AndrewI’s comment points to the glaring weak spot – no realistic plan for some of the truly hairy highway crossings like Branch Ave and Smithfield Ave that have left-turn highway entrances. I get that they can’t change the lanes around, but they certainly could put up big, bold signs.

    Overall, I give it a C+.

  • Matt,

    Regarding comments to the BPAC, I encourage people to share their comments with the BPAC, and I will certainly be sharing anything that people tweet with the BPAC. If you tweet your #pvdbeyondsharrows ideas, consider them forwarded to policymakers.

    I haven’t found the BPAC to be responsive to ideas that are presented to it, the proof of which I think is this plan. I’ve been to almost all of the BPAC meetings, and communicated in other ways to the BPAC, yet I feel no ownership in what was produced. Despite the fact that the plan came out many months after its original release date, there’s very little of public comment to show for it. It’s pretty much the same mediocrity that Bill DiSantis started out with at the outset–take Elmgrove instead of Hope, etc.

    I think the BPAC needs to have a serious conversation with itself about how it can show the general public that their comments matter. The first meeting I came to I brought a bunch of strangers who had found out about the meeting through my flyering. I basically was new to Providence at that point, but wanted to get people out. But when I tried to get those same people to come again, they all said they felt like it wasn’t worth their time not to feel heard. And in general, since the plan is lacking any of the ideas I’ve elicited from people on twitter, facebook, the blog, in person at meetings, on the phone or by email to members, I don’t see why people should feel any differently.


    If I may be a devil’s advocate (surprisingly) for the BPAC and for RIDOT, I think approaching Hope Street might be lower hanging fruit than N. Main. What I find disappointing is that Hope isn’t addressed even though it has plenty of room for cycletracks on it, and the cost of doing those would be quite small. N. Main is arguably full of un-dense, car-oriented development that would make it hard to make infrastructure happen (how do you integrate parking lot driveways into a protected bike lane?).

    I do think it would be very easy to address N. Main up to the Whole Foods. The section that’s on the hill that’s diagonal up to Benefit would be especially easy, since there are few intersections to negotiate, and development is dense. But believe me, a bunch of people have pointed this out over and over, myself included, and it’s not in the plan because the BPAC/VHB decided not to put it there.

  • James, to be clear, the BPAC was not formally apart of the Bike Providence Plan project. We provided commentary and tried to provide extra opportunities for the public to comment and get their input heard and evaluated, final inclusion in the report was ultimately up to the VHB experts. Personally, I would have preferred a different bidder’s proposal had won the bid for that contract and been more audacious in its results, but I also understand that many of the recommendations are pretty vanilla. I attribute that to a bit of legal defense against liability for proposing something that is found to be unsafe, a fear of suggesting something that is genuinely unsafe, and jaded realism about the pace of progress and what is easily accomplished.

    I agree with you that from an infrastructure/route proposal point of view, not a lot changed from November 2012 through August 2013 when early drafts were published and made available to BPAC and the Steering Committee members for review and comment. Some changes were incorporated at the BPACs suggestion, but I must admit, I haven’t read the final product yet.

    As for North Main, the RapidBus project still has an active conversation for how it can include improvements for bicycle users. The last proposal I heard was a dedicated shared bike/bus lane. For Hope street, I disagree that there is sufficient width for dedicated space for bicycle use, and it would have the same issue as N. Main: lots of driveways/intersections.

    Sorry to hear your frustration that things brought to the BPAC aren’t listened too, considered. What do you expect to happen, or have as an outcome?

  • As now a 20-year cyclist in the city, I would far prefer RIDOT resources go to two things: markings (sharrows and signs) and public (driver) education like TV ads and billboards.
    I like a dedicated lane, but I’m going to go where I need to go, and so are most cyclists. And RIDOT has been putting in a lot of dedicated right turn lanes on major cycle routes like North Main. It’s not only not bike-friendly; it’s bike-hostile.

    The North Main / Pawtucket Ave route is probably 5,000 years old; there’s a really good reason that both the train tracks and I-95 follow that corridor. It’s the obvious, easy path from downtown PVD to points north. And the diagonal hill section is not the old path, which would have followed up the Moshassuck via Charles and Randall. Which is exactly the route I’ve taken hundreds of times.

    I think the most important thing we can do RIGHT NOW with the scant resources available is to make it abundantly clear to all drivers that bicycles are a normal, natural part of the urban landscape and that the supremacy of the automobile is over. Drivers must change the way they operate in the city to reflect this new reality, not the other way around.

  • Hi Matt,

    I appreciate your response. I don’t enjoy going to toe-to-toe with people about these things because in general I like the people I’m challenging, yourself included, so I appreciate the openness

    No one has ever said to me that the BPAC was not the responsible authority for the report. What I have heard, time and time again, is that the BPAC has a very unsure place in Providence given the transitional state of the mayor’s office. I respect that. Eric and Jef have both said that to me directly. But as far as I’ve ever had it explained to me, this was the BPAC’s document. That’s even what Bill has said at the meetings, that “I want you to be able to say that this is yours”. While maybe what you’re saying is technically true, and I respect the rock-and-hard place position you may feel you’re in, I also feel that the BPAC itself needs to be a bit more bold in order to change the power dynamics it finds itself in.

    Case in point: where is this 30-40 year talking point coming from? Everyone I hear from the BPAC or alligned organizations keeps saying it’s going to take until I’m an old man for us to be seriously bikeable on a Portland level. To me this is ridiculous. It took that long in the places that started out because no one knew what they were doing. They stepped lightly because they weren’t sure it would work. They made mistakes and people got hurt from bad designs. But now it’s been those forty years, and we know what works, and no one should be talking to the media giving little blurbs about how long it’s going to take. To me, that’s like accepting defeat at the outset. It may in fact take forty years at the rate it’s going, but I think our bargaining position should be one of power. I don’t know what it is about progressive causes in general in this country and bike/transit advocacy in particular, but we seem to have lost the idea that at least some part of a movement has to be loud and uncompromising in order to get somewhere. That’s what the Tea Party does: they demand something that can’t happen, over and over, until it becomes a routine part of the conversation–the “new normal”.


    I disagree about just needing paint, and especially about only using sharrows. Sharrows to me are a mostly useless thing. They’re a nice reminder that bikes are there, but that’s as far as they go. I personally have never owned or even driven a car, and I’ve biked as a large component of my getting around since high school. I’m pretty comfortable (well, at least tolerant) of a lot of conditions. But I think if we’re seriously looking at getting people to bike in large numbers, infrastructure is the key.

    And I don’t agree that we don’t have money. Bike infrastructure–even the really good kind–is cheap. It needs to go to the top of the priority list, along with buses and trains, because those are the things we need to spend on first. Let the parking garages and parking lots and highways take a back seat for once. One of the most annoying things to me about the report is that VHB helped do the Viaduct work, and that was obviously a great deal more expensive than even the most wild-eyed proposals I could come up with, but the report acts as though telling cars not to park in a parking lane is too difficult to get done in the short term. (What would it cost? Almost nothing. . . some enforcement, and painted stencils of bikes, until we could put better facilities in.)

    Anyway, I appreciate the conversation and hope this spurs more involvement. May this be a lesson to people that they have to push back at the city and state if they want to get good results.

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