Letter: Biking is more inviting when you feel safe

Posted 4/1/21

As I’ve been following progress on the Bristol Bicycle Connector, the question I hear repeatedly is, “Why should we let people bike through our town? They have the whole East Bay Bike …

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Letter: Biking is more inviting when you feel safe

Posted

As I’ve been following progress on the Bristol Bicycle Connector, the question I hear repeatedly is, “Why should we let people bike through our town? They have the whole East Bay Bike Path!” This is like saying, “Why should we allow cars in our beautiful, historic downtown area? Car drivers have the whole interstate highway system!” That sounds a little silly, doesn’t it?

We need safe, usable streets so we can get to all the places we need to go, whether we’re traveling by foot, car, wheelchair, or bike. The East Bay Bike Path is a wonderful resource, no doubt. It’s great if you’re biking for recreation, or if you’re biking from Bristol to Providence. However, it isn’t much help at all if you’re trying to bike to the grocery store, work, school, the library, the Farmer’s Market, out to a restaurant, or back home. Only using the bike path would leave you stuck pretty quickly.

Bristol is a very bikeable size, and traveling by bike is a healthy, environmentally friendly way to get where you want to go. Bikes take up a lot less parking space than cars, and they allow you to interact more with the people around you. However, biking isn’t very inviting if you don’t feel safe.

Many of the streets in Bristol lack space to bike safely, and this is particularly true of the main roads you need to use to get across town and to get to many of the main destinations you need to reach. Adding the Bristol Bicycle Connector is a step towards making more places in our town safely accessible by bike. It’s a step towards considering the needs of multiple types of road users instead of just car drivers and a step towards encouraging people to reduce their environmental impact when they travel from place to place.

I hope it is just one step of many to come and that eventually all roads in Bristol will be safe and inviting for walkers and bikers as well as drivers.

Karen Griffith-Dieterich
Bristol

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.