2011-09-22 / Editorial

Hopefully RIDOT can see value to bike path

In our office here at the Press, we have employees from Woonsocket, Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Newport and Cranston. Although I have colleagues, including myself, who can’t vote at the Financial Town Meeting and can’t acquire the Mackerel Cove season pass, the towns and cities we live in offer one thing that Jamestown unfortunately doesn’t – a bike path.

Yesterday, some of the Jamestown brass took a trip to Providence to try and rectify that problem. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, Town Planner Lisa Bryer and Bike Path Design Committee Chairman Bob Sutton took the 30-mile trip north to visit with state Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis.

Although the town of Jamestown has already gotten behind the bike path idea by voting to allocate $21,000 to hire engineers to draw up blueprints, the decision now lies in the hands of Lewis and the DOT.

Jamestown won’t pay to build the bike path. The town will study and plan the construction, but it’s hoping that the state will pitch in. And why shouldn’t it? As Sutton said, it’s not as if the town is asking for something that will send the DOT to the poor house. Rhode Island is in debt, sure, but helping the town out with a cross-island connection from the shores to the village sure isn’t going to raise anyone’s taxes.

The state right now is littered with bike paths. The East Coast Greenway stretches across the southern Massachusetts border and into Woonsocket, Cumberland, Lincoln, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, Cranston, West Warwick and Coventry. The state has the Blackstone River Bikeway, the Ten Mile River Greenway, the Fred Lippitt Woonasquatucket Greenway, the East Bay Bike Path, the Washington Secondary Bike Path, the Coventry Greenway, the Tressel Trail and the William C. O’Neill Bike Path. That’s not even counting the mountain bike trails in state, town and city parks such as Lincoln Woods, George Washington, Burlingame, Arcadia and Great Swamp.

When you think about it, the island not having a bike path is a little shocking. For a quaint coastal tourist community like Jamestown – where children ride their bikes to school and Town Hall has a bike rack outside its doors – it seems to be the perfect place to have one.

Hopefully Lewis recognizes this and goes into his pockets. If not, let’s hope Sutton, Keiser and Bryer can convince him otherwise.

— Tim Riel

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