Making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists has become a priority for the city of Newport, according to the city’s mayor, Jamie Bova.

The council, Bova said, is establishing a working group of civic organizations and city officials to draft an ordinance that would require any road construction – new or upgraded roadways– to be “safe and more user friendly for all road users.” 

“We’re moving away from having cars as the default,” Bova said. “Any form of transportation – wheelchairs, bikes, buses, walkers, motorcycles…widen the aperture through which you view a roadway project for more than just cars.”

An example, Bova said, was the work done on Broadway. For that project, Newport partnered with the state Department of Transportation, a nearly $6 million improvement project to resurface Broadway and upgrade pedestrian facilities. It followed what was called the “Complete Streets Law,” which requires all federal and state funded construction project to consider cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation.

Among the projects was to widen and upgrade sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting and landscaping. Presumably those are at the foundation of what will be required of all roadway projects, if an ordinance is drafted and approved by the council.

“We’ve had pedestrian deaths in the city, and at crosswalks,” Bova said.

At the core is making streets “safer for pedestrians and cyclists,” making Newport roads safer.