I was able to convince friend and (carfreePVD commenter) Vanessa to join me on a casual ride on the East Bay Bike Path this past Sunday. I’m not a fast cyclist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure that through my constant talking about cycling, my friends may be a little intimidated to ride with me. Although I’m enjoying longer trips more and more, I’m also happy to tool along on the bike path at a slower pace. I’ve largely avoided the EBBP because I’ve had a few experiences on it where it was extremely busy. Although it was busier than the other two major paths in Rhode Island, it was by no means out of control. There were many stretches where Vanessa and I were able to ride side by side and chat (another advantage to taking a slow pace). The traffic was light early in the morning, but picked up around 11 AM. I’m not as impressed with the East Bay Bike Path as I was when I first rode it. It’s far busier than the other two and I’m not sure if it’s just because of the traffic, but the path itself seems narrower. There’s also many stop signs on the path when it crosses a small residential street. Some of these are for streets that see some real traffic, but many of them are for streets with no traffic. It’s hard to tell which is which, so this just means that it gets more and more tempting to run the signs as you go along. Hopefully, the people who live around there know to watch out for tons of cyclists on weekends. It’s hard to put a finger on how, but in a way, the EBBP is not as pretty as the other two either. Sure, you’re biking along the bay which is nice, but I prefer the ride through the woods along the Blackstone River, or going past the old mills on the Washington Secondary. The EBBP does have a bigger payoff at the end when you finally reach Bristol. There is a wonderful low-key thrill to sitting on a bench and looking out at the sea, watching the sailboats bob up and down. As a Kansan, I still find the ocean strange and exotic.
We saw all kinds of bikes during our trip. You certainly see more expensive bikes on this trail compared to the other two. No surprise since it goes through Barrington, one of the wealthier cities in RI. There were little kids, weekend warriors, BSOs, VSBs, Grandmas with super-high handlebar positions, and one recumbent. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. I can see how some people think that the bike path can be more dangerous than a city street. There are many cyclists of varying levels of skill, riding in close proximity, and possibly not paying attention. Throw in some joggers, walkers, and many people wearing headphones: recipe for disaster. I had one close call on a blind curve with a kid who was biking on the wrong side of the path. It was actually pretty scary – I’m glad we swerved in opposite directions. I’m looking forward to getting out on the open road again some time soon, or maybe just taking the Blackstone Bike Path to Woonsocket.
As we approached the end of our ride, I realized that the fixie was the only bicycle type that I had not seen represented on the trail. Finally, less than a mile from the Providence end, I saw 3 in a row. I then realized that of course, no fixie rider wakes up before noon.