‘Needed Now More Than Ever’: East Providence to Start New Bike and Pedestrian Plan


With the closure of I-195 westbound on the Washington Bridge, the development of a pedestrian and bicycle master plan for East Providence is more important than ever. (Colleen Cronin/ecoRI News)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With the Washington Bridge’s partial closure and traffic running amok, a bike and pedestrian master plan for the city comes at an opportune time.

The Rhode Island Department of Administration’s Division of Statewide Planning awarded the recently gridlocked city $160,000 to start creating a plan in November, before the bridge issues abruptly closed the westbound side of Interstate 195 the following month.

East Providence already has two popular bicycle paths, the East Bay Bike Path and the Ten Mile River Greenway, which made it a great candidate for a comprehensive bike and pedestrian plan, Josh O’Neill, the supervising planner at the Division of Statewide Planning, told ecoRI News.

Statewide planning already started the procurement process to hire a firm to create the plan. O’Neill hopes they’ll hire a company and begin the planning process by May.

The city will match the grant with $40,000 in a mix of cash and time from its planning department, O’Neill said.

Public comment will be an important part of the process, he said. “That’s very important to planners, that’s our focus a lot of time and making sure that we get plans that really speak to the needs of residents.”

Keith Brynes, East Providence’s director of planning and economic development, said there’s already a few areas that he hopes the plan will address, like how to increase access to the bike paths the city already has and how to take advantage of the construction and reconfiguration of the Henderson Bridge.

Currently, most people in the community drive to get around. Part of that is due to its history. In the 1960s, I-195 construction sliced through the city, Brynes said, “which, you know, sort of transformed the city in different ways.”

Despite the existence of two of the state’s best bike routes, the city’s infrastructure caters mostly to cars.

According to the 2019 American Community Survey, 85% residents drive alone to work, 3% use public transit, 1% walk, and 0% bike.

“I mean, there are some people who are bicycle commuters, but that 0% reflects statistical insignificance,” said Johanna Walczak, the city’s senior planner.

Byrnes hopes that along with making biking and walking easier for residents, the plan will also make it safer.

“Unfortunately, there have been a number of fatal pedestrian crashes between 2017 and 2022; definitely looking to eliminate those, and increase safety in the city,” Brynes said.

Although the plan will take about two years to complete, hopefully long after the Washington Bridge issues are resolved, both Brynes and Walczak said they think it will add some vigor to solving the multimodal problem.

“The whole situation just really highlights the importance of creating more opportunities for alternative modes of transportation and investing in public transit and infrastructure for bicycle and pedestrian facilities,” Walczak said.

She noticed that after the bridge and associated traffic problems first started, more people biked and walked to work than usual.

“It’s sort of needed now more than ever,” Brynes said. “Now that the traffic congestion here has been more acute over the past few months, it might be that people living in the city and elsewhere are more open to alternatives to driving alone.”


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  1. State needs to repave existing bike path from Barrington to Providence. Lots of patches and bumps make for unpleasant biking experience

  2. That’s great, the East Bay bike path does need this. But the problem with your article is you mentioned “East Providence” needs to come up with a plan. Which is 1000٪ WRONG!

    The state or federal government needs to come up with a plan! Why should the East Providence tax payer have to pay for that plan. Which would be the result of producing this “plan”

    The reason there needs to be a plan is because of generations of corruption and poor leadership.

    You all want funds for the bike path because of this. Go ask all the politicians and leadership over the years who embezzled or miss handled fund over the years.

    If you sheep don’t have the intelligence or will power to act on the corruption you’ve complied with for years. DEAL WITH IT LIKE THE REST OF US!

  3. Welcome to Road Island where you have no choice but to drive or suffer from inferior transportation infrastructure. The state is a major laggard in terms of moving towards being multimodal.

  4. How many people do you think will ride a bike to work from East Providence to where on the other side of the bridge?
    Don’t you think it’s smarter to do a survey to see if anybody’s even interested before you spend more tax money on more studies from hired agencies?

  5. A crossing light needs to be working where the 133 Club is before a cyclist is killed at that blind spot coming around the corner. It’s like a speedway
    And how about plowing the snow on the East Bay path during the winter.
    Also the path needs to be repaved around the Squantum Club. I guess it’s like the roads along the 33 bus route in EP.
    Get that ribbon cutting governor to do something for a change. At least mayor Bob DaSilva is getting things done in Riverside.

  6. This is my comment I believe it was a couple of decades ago the state was planning to build a new highway over Narragansett Bay to alleviate the problem with 195 what happened to that plan it cost a few dollars too much? How many times are they going to repair and widen that 195 Bridge over and over and over again spending tax payers money? So somebody in the state has those plans to build a new bridge to get to the other side of the Bay let’s put that plan in action and get rid of 50% of the commuting problem. So if you just do it and put that old plan back in action I think the commuters will be much happier. I worked in East Providence I get out of work at 5:00 I had to wait there at work until quarter of 8:00 every night just so I wouldn’t have to fight the traffic and I would have to go to work 2 hours earlier and sit in the parking lot wait until the business opened so return my 8 hour work day until a 12-hour work day.

  7. The Fox Point draw bridge sits right in the between the 195 and the Hendersen bridges. If this bridge was converted into a functional bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, it would allow more access to many of the businesses that are impacted by the bridge closure, without interfering with Auto traffic

  8. I like the comment on using the Fox Point Bridge for pedestrian traffic. That bridge connects to a tunnel under the East side from Gano St to South Main St providing direct car free access from down town to East Providence. Whatever they do it should be bike and pedestrian paths, not ride sharing the streets with cars. These streets are designed for cars. Bicycles are a separate non motorized transportation system and should be it’s own design and not superimposed over our current street grid.

  9. I suppose this is good news as RI’s bike program has mostly stalled even as the need for true “zero-emission” travel has become more apparent (for example no more bike money in DEM’s proposed “Green Bond”) But it is just planning money, no action, and we already have lots of plans sitting on shelves. I note East Providence passed up a chance to use an abandoned segment of the P&W rail line to extend the bike path northward, that became Waterfront Drive, well named as it encourages even more driving! And when improvements on the on-road section of the East Bay Bike Path (just east of the bridge to Providence) were suggested that would have given some street space to bikes separated from traffic, selfish motorists protested any loss of their space or any implied slowing down, so EP authorities abandoned the idea. No wonder we have a climate crisis! Still, better late than never that EP is interested

  10. This is a great idea. East Providence has a huge advantage with the East Bay Bike Path. I commute by bike all year round and intentionally bought a house near the bike path so I could leave the car at home. For me, going by bike the fastest way around town! I do wish it was a little safer.

    I think cleaning up the area around the Henderson / rotary would be great. Right now it feels safer to ride through the gridlock of Broadway than to go through the rotary.

    There’s a railroad that goes from the Henderson to Rumford. Converting that to bike path would essentially link the Ten Mile Greenway to the East Bay Bike Path. How cool would that be?

    Converting the Fox Point Bridge / Tunnel is a great idea too.

    Otherwise just some more sidewalks and safer street crossings would be great.

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