To The Editor,
We are writing collectively as representative community leaders to express our support of road safety efforts in Newport in the form of improved markings for bicyclists on the roads most frequented by people riding bicycles and prioritized by the RI Department of Statewide Planning and by the city’s local advocacy organization, Bike Newport.
We are very grateful to Councilors Lynn Ceglie and Jamie Bova for sponsoring a resolution to improve road safety in Newport – on the City Council docket for June 9th. We ask that the language of this resolution be further improved to ask our City planners for a plan and timeline that will reference specific priority roads in a timely way. As now written, there are no specific deliverables stated in the resolution, and we feel such an improvement is needed to ensure results.
Candidate roads are identified in the Bikeway Network section of the 2020 Statewide Bicycle Mobility Plan (page 69) and have been helpfully prioritized by Bike Newport in maps shared with the community and the City Council.
Newport can dramatically improve road safety now with low-cost paint markings, well in advance of the longer-term infrastructure improvements we anticipate as outcomes from the upcoming Newport Transportation Master Plan – which is still years away.
Together, we represent the needs of students, workers, visitors, tourists, and residents of all ages and abilities – people who ride bicycles for transportation and recreation, and many people who don’t ride but want to. We also represent people driving cars who will be more aware of the presence of bicycles and who will benefit from indications about on sharing the roads with people biking and walking.
Cities and towns around the region and the world are responding to the pandemic, climate crisis, carbon reduction needs, aging in place, and wishes to be more physically active by creating safe spaces for people to bike. We have seen an increase in people biking in Newport since the start of the pandemic. As we follow the national and international trend, these numbers will continue to rise. Encouragement of biking in Newport contributes to lessening traffic congestion during our busy tourist season. Both visitors and residents are increasingly visiting Newport to go riding. Biking is an exciting and healthy way to explore Newport and a primary way of getting around for many people. Let’s do our part to ensure that it is as safe as possible.
Bike lanes are an inexpensive and easy-to-implement solution that are a proven method to prevent traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Extending bicycling routes through highly trafficked areas of Newport just makes sense.
We hope the City Council will support this important step to raise awareness, improve safety, and prevent tragedies – for all road users.
Colleen Burns Jermain, Newport Superintendent of Schools
Bari Freeman, Executive Director, Bike Newport
Kathleen Gannon, Chair, Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition
Rebekah Gomez, Executive Director, Conexión Latina Newport
Matt Netto, Legislative Director, AARP Rhode Island
Steven Sabo, Chair, Newport Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission
Mary Alice Smith, Coordinator, Newport For All Ages