To the editor:
The Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) is very pleased its proposed 18-mile Aquidneck Island Bikeway has generated such enthusiastic support from the public.
Public involvement is the cornerstone of AIPC’s operating procedures. In its widely acclaimed Aquidneck Island Transportation Study (AITS), there were 3,000 public comments influencing recommendations, including the Aquidneck Island Bikeway. Based on public input and state agency guidance, the bikeway consistently ranked among the top five recommendations for implementation. The AITS was approved by each municipality in 2012.
Because of AIPC’s commitment to provide accurate information to the public, we would like to respectfully correct some inaccuracies in Mr. Thomas Grieb’s recent letter to the editor (The Portsmouth Times, Aug. 8).
AIPC’s bike launch event was celebrating not the opening of the path but the van Beuren Charitable Foundation’s generous gift to AIPC for a required environmental, engineering, legal review and coastal management study for the bikeway. This research study (DSR), beginning in the fall, will determine if the bikeway plan is feasible and includes a public involvement process. It has no power to advance the bikeway, only to provide information to the state.
Eighty-five percent of the Aquidneck Island Bikeway will be an on-road marked lane bikeway. It is not designed for children. Only the 1.2 miles off-road section along the water between Cory’s Lane and Stringham Lane is planned as a dedicated, multi-use and handicap accessible path suitable for all ages and abilities. West Main Road in that location is very dangerous, so an off-road path was selected.
A common misperception is that bike lanes are developed by reducing travel lanes through road diets. It is the reverse. When a road diet reduces the number of lanes from four to two, the freed-up shoulder space is then used to provide any one of a number of features, which may be a landscaping strip, footpaths or a cycling lane.
Road diets are strictly roadway safety improvement projects that have been identified through the Federal Highway Administration’s road safety audits at the request of the State Traffic Commission. These are affordable yet beneficial improvements that save taxpayer dollars and have been proven to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes.
If endorsed by the state, the Aquidneck Island Bikeway is projected to cost approximately $3.5 million, with funds coming from federal dollars through the state’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
Eighty percent of it should be completed for riding by 2014/15. In comparison, another bikeway plan, the eight-mile rail with trail “Shoreline Bikeway” is projected to cost over $25 million and take up to 10 years to construct.
There are many bicyclists today using the roads along which the bikeway will be constructed without protection. AIPC believes an interim path will provide a much safer route until the inland path can be built.
Among many benefits, the path will provide healthy opportunities for exercise, access to Narragansett Bay, reduction of automobile traffic, commute-to-work routes and an economic engine for Aquidneck Island and Rhode Island.
AIPC welcomes your inquiries at [email protected] or 845-9299.
Aquidneck Island Planning Commission