Washington Bridge Update (from RI Bike).

Today’s post on ribike.org is an update on the construction of bike/pedestrian walkway to go along I-195 connecting Providence to East Providence. If you’ve lived in the area for a while, you may remember that the bridge was closed to cyclists and pedestrians for about 2 years while work was done on the automotive part of the bridge. Now they want to close it down for an additional two years to build a bike/pedestrian path on the bridge. Bike and pedestrian traffic will be expected to take the Henderson Bridge instead. Mark Dietrich from RI Bike received a letter from RI DOT explaining why they have to close the bridge for two years and why they are such great people (you can get to the letter from the post linked above). By a strange coincidence, I had some business to conduct in EP today, and I thought I’d take the Henderson bridge on the way there, and the Washington Bridge on the way back. It wasn’t until I sat down to my laptop to get my daily intake of bike blogs that I realized the fortuitousness of my choice of routes. Here’s what greeted me on the approach to the Henderson:

I know that the sign on the post says “bike lane,” but that symbol on the road looks more like a unicycle. Let’s take a closer look…


Broken glass, auto parts,  a can of natty lite (not pictured), and SAND SAND SAND! The lane got a little better further down the road, but I had to duck into the travel lane in order to avoid a few more sand & glass traps. So this is what RI DOT wants us to use while they take 2 years to build a special road for us on the Washington Bridge. The stupid question is: Why didn’t they just build it at the same time they did all of the other construction? Why close it for two years, while not doing any actual work on it? Then they open it for a year and now close it again for two years.

They do need to seriously work on the pedestrian and bike accomodations on the Washington Bridge. I didn’t get any pictures on my way home today. It’s a very narrow path, not wide enough for two cyclists to pass each other. In fact, you have to pull over on to one of the “turrets” on the bridge in order to let another person go by in the opposite direction. There are signs telling cyclists to walk their bikes, but that’s really a ridiculous expectation. Cyclists should yield to pedestrians on the walkway, but to ask them to go from 10 MPH (a safe riding speed on the walkway) down to 3 MPH is crazy.

Bike Valet at the Farmers’ Market tomorrow… er, later today as it were. Saturday, that is. See you there.


7 responses to “Washington Bridge Update (from RI Bike).

  1. Allens Ave is equally abysmal. Whatever federal money RI or Providence got for painting bicycle icons in the gutter should be surrendered back.

    The “No Parking” in the bike lane is never enforced. But the sand, gravel, and auto parts are what really bother me (the brake pads worry me the most; I fear the car that lost it still travels the road, endlessly searching for it…). It’s all the more upsetting given that Public Works’ street sweepers operate out of Allens Ave, and so they drive right past those lanes every night.

    I follow RI law § 31-19-6, “as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable”, which in such conditions can only mean “ride in the automobile lane to the left of the bicycle branded gutter, where there’s no sand or crap to cause an unsafe condition”. Car drivers are no doubt angry they have to ease their power steering systems leftward & giude their vehicle into the left travel lane (Allens Ave is 2 lanes each way), but that’s the consequence of having a gutter instead of a bike lane.

    • here here!

    • I’ve been following that law as well. I should have mentioned that all of the cars that passed me gave me plenty of room, and no one gave me a honk or any visible “attitude.” So… I guess there’s that. I am always comfortable with moving over to the travel lane when the bike lane is obstructed. I haven’t used the Allens Ave lanes yet, but I run into the same problem on the bike lanes on Promenade/Kinsley/Providence Place (west of the Mall). I always move into the main part of the road to avoid the glass and sand (or abandoned laserjet printer as pictured here). There are so few bike lanes in Providence, and it seems like none of them are ever properly swept, with the possible exception of the Blackstone Blvd lanes – coincidentally in the wealthiest part of the city.

    • I took a ride on Allens Ave Saturday just to see what you were talking about. Those bike lanes are pretty much useless half of the time (covered in sand, or spotted with broken glass). The road itself is nice an smooth at points, but the real killer are the railroad tracks! Since they are completely unused now, it would be nice if they actually pulled them out. Those things can be a death trap to a cyclist. They also ruin the fun of going down a city street at 30 MPH.

  2. And Charles St. through Providence seriously needs bike lanes too. They also need to repave the entire road because it’s hell on bike tires.

  3. I posted the gravel trap at the corner of N. Main and Meeting to see-click-fix, in the spirit of scientific inquiry. http://www.seeclickfix.com/providence

    • Nice! I didn’t even know about that website. Now I can kvetch straight to the mayor instead of just kvetching to the air.

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