As Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and other political dignitaries prepared to officially open the new Providence River Pedestrian Bridge on Friday, they were greeted by activists representing the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition concerned about proposed cuts to the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure budgets at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT). The protest was planned by People for Bikes, Women Bike RI, Providence Bike Jam and Grow Smart.

“The Department of Transportation has put forward an amendment to the
Transportation Improvement Plan called major amendment number 19 to cut $37M out of the RIDOT budget from bicycle and walk projects,” said Betty Bourret, a member o the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition. The cuts will result in projects not being done, being reevaluate or postponed indefinitely over the next decade.

“We know and acknowledge that plenty of money is needed to be build the bridges and fix the highways in Rhode Island, but we also think that $37M is nothing compared to the RIDOT budget,” continued Bourret. “We’re really opposed to stopping or postponing all these projects that would just encourage people to get out of their cars and ride their bikes to work [and] ride their bikes for recreation. It’s good for your health, right it’s good for air quality [and] it’s good for everybody.”

After touting the work that RIDOT has been doing to bring Rhode Island’s roads and bridges into a state of repair, Governor Raimondo acknowledged the presence of the bicycle advocates.

“There was some folks here advocating for bike paths,” noted Raimondo. “Know that we’re not going to stop continuing to invest in infrastructure in all of its kinds – In bike paths, in bridges, in pedestrian walks, in groves, in greenways, in RIPTA, in public transportation – It’s core to our community. It’s core to our economy and we’re going to keep it going…”

Here are all the speeches given at the opening, followed by pictures:


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barry
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barry

I’d say the speeches were largely the politicians and their appointees praising each other, but at least there was a shout-out to community groups that advocated for the bridge and other bike and pedestrian projects. It would have been nice if one of their spokespeople would have been invited to address the crowd but that rarely happens at such events.

That said, the bridge is a sensible reuse of the old I-195 piers and Representative Cicilline especially deserves credit for when, as Mayo, he had the vision to support this, especially in the face of our drive-everywhere culture, still dominant as shown by the current bike/pedestrian cuts being proposed even as much more money is available to RIDOT.