Providence bike lane to be replaced with new urban trail

Providence bike lane to be replaced with new urban trail

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The capital city will soon be creating a new urban trail along South Water Street in hopes of making Providence safer, more connected and easily accessible, according to Mayor Brett Smiley.


Smiley announced earlier this year that the city was considering shutting down the South Water Street bike lane, which links the East Bay Bike Path to downtown Providence, in a bid to ease congestion caused by the Washington Bridge closure. His proposal faced significant pushback from cyclists, advocates and the Providence City Council.

The new urban trail, which will replace the current bike lane, will improve traffic flow and enhance pedestrian safety along South Water Street, according to Smiley.

He described the new urban trail as “a significant step forward” in the city’s commitment to keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe.

The new urban trail addresses flaws in the existing bike lane design and allows for the return of two lanes of one-way traffic, Smiley added.

The bike lane will be shifted up onto the sidewalk so the city can restore South Water Street’s two-lane traffic pattern and parking lane. The city will also be installing raised crosswalks and infrastructure that will improve stormwater runoff.

The new urban trail incorporates feedback the city has received from residents, cyclists and business owners over the past few months.

“We are not going to have a single day without a bike lane,” Councilman John Goncalves said. “This is a win for our neighbors, bike advocates and for those who care about quality of life and pedestrian safety.”

The new urban trail is being constructed using $4.4 million in federal funding, which has been earmarked for South Water Street since January 2023.

The current bike lane and traffic configuration will remain in place until construction on the new urban trail begins in spring 2025. Throughout construction, Smiley said the city will try to minimize disruptions and ensure “the smooth continuation of daily activities for residents and businesses along South Water Street.”

The Providence Streets Coalition praised Smiley’s decision not to remove the bike lane and listen to residents’ concerns.

“While we believe that restoring a second driving lane will benefit neither residents nor commuters, we will continue to advocate for a balanced and safe plan for all road users,” the Providence Streets Coalition wrote.

It’s unclear exactly when the new urban trail is scheduled to be completed.