In June 2012 complete-streets legislation was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee. The law requires federal- and state-funded road-construction projects to consider bicyclists, public-transit users and pedestrians during the design process. The goal is to increase road safety for non-automobile users and, thereby, encourage people to use alternative forms of transportation, which promote public and environmental health while reducing traffic congestion.
While Rhode Island’s complete-streets legislation has resulted in safer road design in some places, many bicycle advocates are generally disappointed by the results. The legislation requires the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to consider incorporating complete-streets features, but allows exceptions on projects if the agency determines space is limited or costs are deemed disproportionate to the use those features would likely garner.
When I imagine RIDOT considering complete street infrastructure on construction projects, I imagine it a lot like my non-religious family says grace at Thanksgiving; “Someone should say grace,” “Grace,” eat. “Someone should consider complete streets,” “considered,” make street geometry so cars can move as fast as possible.