Spring seems to be more or less here, kind of… not really sure, maybe. I’m not trying to tempt fate here… but last weekend was the first warm weekend of the year, which is pretty exciting. I marked the occasion by taking a quick ride up the Blackstone Bike Path to buy food for my birds at Jungle Junction (warning, website is a time warp to 1997). I’ll write about the Blackstone another day. Instead, I’d like to tell you about the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Bike Path. First of all, that’s one long name. Oh wait, I forgot, it’s actually called the Fred Lippitt Woonasquatucket River Greenway Bike Path Let’s just call it the WRGBP. I took a couple of rides there this fall and while they were enjoyable, I’ve got to say that it was kind of an odd experience.
I believe that the path was finished in 2007 as part of a river restoration project. The restoration of the river began in 1993. At the time, the Woonasquatucket was lined with abandoned industrial sites, trash, and overgrown and abandoned parks. Part of the Greenway is even a superfund site due to dioxin contamination. Take that East Bay Bike Path!
The Woonie ends in Downtown Providence, pretty much right at Waterplace Park. (BTW: I’m going to start calling the Woonasquatucket River “The Woonie” and see if it catches on. I have other nicknames for parts of RI that seem to offend the natives. For example, that little dongle of land in the southeast corner of the state that’s made up of Tiverton & Little Compton – that shall now be known as “TLC.” You read it here first!) The bike path begins underneath Providence Place Mall. There’s a couple of switchbacks underneath the large glassed-in middle section of the mall. These lead you down to Promenade St., and underneath I-95. The bike path at this point is a bike lane on the left-hand side of the divided street. There’s not much traffic on Promenade on the weekend, so no trouble from drivers. The bike lane eventually ends and you have to wend your way over to Eagle Square. From there, you have to go on a number of streets without bike lanes, eventually bringing you to Riverside Park.
There’s an attractive playground, a community garden, and the red bike barn- a community bike repair shop:
There’s an old dam there and a new fish ladder to allow fish to migrate up the river.
Well, that’s part of the structure. Here’s a better picture of a fish ladder further upstream:
The fish ladder is appropriately decorated:
From Riverside Park, the path wends its way along the river, gently going uphill. At one point, it goes along a retaining wall parallel to Rt. 6. The retaining wall is decorated with paintings of bikes, and the name of the path:
As you can see, the name of the FLWRGBP is too long to fit in one shot:
There are several spurs linking the bike path to different neighborhoods. One spur goes over Rt. 6 into Merino Park.
There’s some nice public informative art in the park.
Good advice, what with the dioxin from the superfund site and all.
I still couldn’t quite squeeze the whole thing into one shot.
Another spur goes up to the Buttonhole Golf Course. The Buttonhole was also part of the Woonie’s rehabilitation. It’s a tiny little golf course, designed to teach kids (especially urban kids) about the intensely boring pleasures of playing golf. Although the bike path is only a few years old, something tells me that not many people ride on the spur that goes to the Buttonhole.
That is some pretty sweet pavement, by the way. In fact, the whole thing is extremely smooth – no frost heaves, root heaves, or pot holes yet. There is some occasional graffiti on the trail:
I wish I knew what this meant.
Another spur goes up to Manton Ave and features this mural:
The mural is dated 2008, but was well on its way to being overgrown in September 2009 when I took this picture.
The map for the WRGBP shows the entire length of the path as 4.6 miles. However, only about 2.5 miles of the path are actually off-road bike path, the rest is either bike lanes or signed bike routes (including a couple of busy streets). It’s a very short path, but a fun way to extend a shopping trip to the mall. These pictures were taken on a beautiful September day and I saw 2 other cyclists on the path. It’s a little odd riding on a brand-new bike path that seems practically abandoned. The gentle uphill out, downhill back makes for a nice ride. There is some talk about extending the path up through Smithfield but the WRGBP is encountering resistance from some NIMBY-ism. I’m not sure why people wouldn’t want a bike path in their backyard, but I guess they are afraid of the unknown. Which means that for now, this is the…