On September 24, 2022, the following message was sent from Bike Newport to all candidates for City/Town Council, RI House, and RI Senate representing Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. Thanks to all of the candidates who replied for taking the time to share their vision. Their responses appear below the question, in alphabetical order by positions. All responses are presented as received, unedited.
Dear Candidates: First and foremost, thank you for running. There are few greater statements of commitment to community than the willingness to serve in public office.
We are sending this message to all candidates for City/Town Councils, RI Senate, and RI House for Aquidneck Island – Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. We hope to gain an understanding of your thoughts/ideas related to biking and walking in our community.
Background: The pandemic inspired exponentially more people to get on bikes – for outdoor healthy activity, and as a pandemic-safe way to get around. As a result, there are more people biking and walking for both recreation and transportation. Also, there are more people who want to bike and walk but don’t yet feel comfortable or safe enough to do so.
What is your vision to help people ride and walk safely in our community? What actual steps might you take to achieve your vision?
Newport City Council Middletown Town Council Portsmouth Town Council
RI House RI Senate
NEWPORT CITY COUNCIL
Mark Aramli, At-Large:
(10/3/22)I believe strongly in the philosophy of livable, walkable, and bikeable cities with open green spaces. It’s why my company BedJet and the Aramli Foundation have become significant philanthropic supporters to Bike Newport, as I firmly support their mission. On nice fall days, I ride my bike from my home near Fort Adams to my office in the North End. Today, portions of this ride are difficult to navigate and have varying levels of safety. Newport has made some progress in adding bike lanes to connect different parts of the city. I would be a strong proponent to extend these links end to end, with dedicated bike lanes wherever possible.
We also need to consider pedestrians and scooter riders. Newport is plagued with many poor sidewalks in disrepair, and streets that in some places also need considerable upgrades. We can and should be doing better with basic maintenance of our infrastructure in this regard.
Our roads need to be open and inviting to all users, including drivers. Occasionally I see cyclists and even skateboarders going the wrong way down a one-way street or weaving in and out of traffic, and occasionally hopping onto the sidewalks. A focus on safety with additional signage and education would be one step I will take. We should be working with Newport Police to enforce proper rules, and also with the various bicycle rental shops and Bike Newport to ensure educational literature is handed out to those who are renting daily.
We all love living in Newport, but none of us love the traffic. Enabling more people to move around the city without needing a car would be a priority for me on Council. Newport is a beautiful place to walk and cycle and we should continue to rely on guidance and professional input from experts like Bike Newport.
David Carlin, 3rd Ward
Lynn Ceglie, At-Large:
(10/2/22) What is your vision to help people ride and walk safely in our community? I think we all would like to see greater safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
For pedestrians, the City’s role is to continue to invest in infrastructure upgrades. Improved intersections and sidewalks are key in the prevention of falls and collisions.
The Pell Bridge realignment plan incorporates bike lanes along Connell Highway and ending at the Gateway Center. Bicycle safety is challenging due to the city’s narrow 18th Century roads that are at times, congested with automobile traffic. The City Council approved the “Green and Complete Streets” policy with the goal of making the streets safer for everyone. Painted “sharrows” and roadway signage are designed to make drivers more aware of bicyclists; however, bike safety begins with riders obeying the rules of the road and cars slowing down. Riders travel the wrong way on one-way streets, do not yielding at stop signals and ride on sidewalks. Just as the STOP LOOK and WAVE campaign made pedestrians and motorists more cognizant of each other, I envision a bicycle safety campaign – in the schools and general public – that would help riders and motorists understand how to interact and navigate safely. I would also like to see off-road recreational areas for children to bike safely.
What actual steps might you take to achieve your vision? Since elected, my focus has been public safety. When first elected to the council, I worked on the Broadway Revitalization project. I gained a greater understanding of how infrastructure can enhance walkability and road safety while transforming business areas and neighborhoods.
For years I strongly advocated for the Memorial Boulevard safety crosswalks equipped with pedestrian activated stop lights. These improvements were finally installed last year making the intersections much safer. The elderly and handicapped residents of Donovan Manor on Chapel Street were of great concern to me and I am relieved that the new crosswalks are in place.
I worked with Bari Freeman, director of Bike Newport on a plan to insure the “pump track” built on Newport Housing Authority land adjacent to Miantonomi Park, to make biking fun and safe for our children. Also, I supported the City’s work clearing land for the Big Blue Bike Barn as well as the installation of bike racks throughout the downtown for added security and convenience.
I worked with the “Newport for All Ages” group that included every social service organization in the city on an “action plan” to improve infrastructure and amenities targeting our senior population.
I voted in support of the North End Urban Plan and Master Transportation Plan which incorporate increased walkability and bicycle safety. The council must ensure that any new North End project that is developed includes pedestrian access and bike safety.
I am working with the organizers of the Spring Park (formerly Coffey’s garage). This long-term project prioritizes walkability and will result in upgraded sidewalks and new crosswalks leading to a beautiful open space with underground stormwater infrastructure.
Before the Covid crisis, Mayor Jeanne Napolitano, Evan Smith of Discover Newport, Scott Avedisian of RIPTA and I worked on a free “Hop On/Hop Off” bus trying alleviate some of the traffic on America’s Cup Avenue, Thames Street and Bellevue Avenue. A free bus route financed by Discover Newport and RIPTA began this summer and by all accounts has been a great success. We need to advocate and find funding for more free public transportation. We have a great opportunity to increase free shuttles with the implementation of the new parking lot that is part of the Pell Bridge Realignment.
Recently, I asked RIDOT for an updated safety study for the dangerous and congested Memorial Boulevard/Bellevue Ave intersection. I expect a study to convene soon. Thank you.
Charlie Holder, 2nd Ward:
(10/28/22) As a City I feel we have been taking great strides in improving our streets and sidewalks to make pedestrian and bike travel safer and more efficient. When the new bike path from West Main Rd to America’s Cup Ave. is completed, that will open up a major artery for everyone to be able to get from downtown to the North End and vice versa.
The big issue I see right now is the lack of proper biking and enforcement on our streets. Especially with the influx of electric bikes, more and more riders are riding much more aggressively through our streets. Working in the heart of downtown on a daily basis, I see first hand the problems these situations cause. The weaving in and out of traffic, traveling the wrong way on one way streets and passing on the right side of cars. I think that a more enforcement presence is needed in this area to really try and curtail some of the reckless riding behavior taken place.
Lastly, I am hoping we can work more efficiently with RIDOT to adjust the pedestrian crossing issues at the Bellevue Ave/Memorial Blvd intersections. Both the timing and duration of the traffic signals for both cars and pedestrians are not operating in an efficient manner. Hopefully, this year we will get to a point where safety is increased as well as travel efficiency for both cars and bikes/walkers as well.
Katherine Jessup, At-Large:
(10/2/22)I believe that it is the right of our community to have multimodal options to move throughout our City that are safe, clearly marked, and convenient to residents. Bicycle friendly cities provide options for exercise as well as providing sustainable options for travel which will help Newport to reduce its carbon footprint. Increased bicycle and pedestrian movement will also reduce motor vehicle traffic, which I have heard from many residents to be a primary concern.
As a professional master planner, I know that in order to achieve this, we must work together with experts like Bike Newport and planning organizations to look at multimodal transportation holistically. It is important that we look at our pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure as well as public transit to assure that community members of all abilities are able to safely move through our City.
The transportation master plan that has been developed includes recommendations which came as a result of robust community engagement and have shown that opportunities for bicycle, pedestrian, and other transportation models are important to residents.
As we look at implementation, it is important that changes to existing traffic patterns to create safe bike lines and pedestrian-based walkways be viewed in the greater context of these master plans. It is also important that our police department enforce bicycle safety regulations and we make sure that visitors are aware of our ordinances and laws.
The success of any plan rests in the support of the community. The first steps toward implementing the vision will be to continue the transparent process that has been ongoing regarding transportation and then looking to create short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals and deadlines for targets. Short -term recommendations may be no-to-low-cost and may include re-striping (as an example). Mid-term and long-term goals often require further study or may have financial implications and be considered as part of annual City budget.
I look forward to helping the City move forward and know that with my skill set, I will be an asset in implementing bicycle and multimodal transportation plans.
If you or community members have any further questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me directly via email Kate@katejessup.org or phone at 401-324-9460
Xaykham Khamsyvoravong, At-Large:
(10/12/22) Newport’s quality of life is directly impacted by the ease and safety with which our residents and visitors can move about and enjoy the City. As recent traffic and accidents show, Newport needs to do much better, and it will require a strategy to calm traffic in our neighborhoods and improve how pedestrians, cyclists and drivers co-exist.
This can be accomplished through a combination of education, policies and infrastructure improvements and the Council needs members that have the right vision and a track record of getting these types of changes done. This is why I believe I’m uniquely suited to help.
Cycling was a core part of my upbring on Rhode Island’s East Bay and formed the foundation of my family’s extensive ongoing work in this space: my sister is an award-winning program coordinator for Y-Bike, and I’ve served for seven years on the board of Grow Smart Rhode Island (a nonprofit that works with cities and towns on multi-modal transit solutions). Most recently, I chaired the Governor’s Transition Working Group on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Our councilors need to start by consulting and listening to the advice of its experts: the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC). BPAC’s voice should be considered whenever transit related policy and infrastructure improvements are made. For example, when the Planning Board releases the much-anticipated Transportation Master Plan (any day now), the Council should consult with BPAC on how best to prioritize recommended traffic calming measures in areas where high injury accidents occur.
We also need to consider how to support programs and infrastructure that provide transportation alternatives for those who need it. One good example of this is the “Safe Routes to School” program that’s adding improvements like crosswalks and bike lanes so students can safely walk and bike to school, and which the City should work to maintain.
Such programs need to be coupled with ongoing educational programming (like those Bike Newport offers) that teach and reinforce safe cycling habits. Small things, like encouraging cyclists on the road at night to put lights on their bicycles, make a big difference when it comes to safety.
Finally, when we build new major transportation infrastructure, pedestrian and biking accommodations need to be part of the solution. Newport is a colonial city so many of our streets are tough to navigate as is – whenever we make investments they need to be with an eye toward how we can keep Newporters moving safely.
Our City can do better, but its going to take a council that can get it done, and I want to help!
Angela McCalla, 1st Ward:
(10/12/22) I envision a space in which all forms of transportation would co-exist equally. Newport is small enough to consider pilot programs that explore different ideas for transportation and to be an example for other similar cities. Traveling through Newport using different modes of transportation enhances the experience of our city, whether walking, biking, driving, or utilizing public transportation.
While on council, I supported more bike parking and increasing bike lanes. I also drafted a resolution on traffic calming measures in areas that have experienced increased levels of vehicular traffic, particularly commercial vehicles, and increased reports of speeding incidences at a time when there are also increases in pedestrian and bicycle activity. Additionally, the city began drafting the Master Transportation Plan last November to address topics such as parking, traffic, public transit and ridesharing, accessibility opportunities, and active mobility options. In addition to assessing the City’s existing transportation infrastructure, the Transportation Master Plan also provides an opportunity for the community to establish a shared vision to equitably address the transportation challenges facing the city, as well as to set achievable and measurable goals that will shape Newport’s long-term mobility strategy and inform future development. During this time, the drafting of the RFP has been done and has signed off with a Memorandum of Understanding with the state and I expect that the RFP will be released sometime in the near future. I also supported the resolution of Green and Complete Streets that promote more walkable areas and provide mechanisms that would promote slower modes of transport.
Jeanne Marie Napolitano, At-Large:
(10/3/22) What is your vision to help people ride and walk safely in our community? The city has worked tirelessly for years to improve and replace sidewalks and streets throughout Newport. I submitted a resolution to address a major entrance into the city, Broadway. The city conducted a series of meetings inviting public input and discussions on best practices used in other major resort areas around the nation. We wanted to enhance the experience for citizens and visitors alike. I was contacted by members of AARP. After some discussion, they agreed to conduct a hands-on study for the rehabilitation of Broadway. The study recommended extra wide sidewalks, improved accessibility, and other safety measures such as bump-outs, additional crosswalks, improved signage, and sharrows, allowing both bicyclists and vehicles to share the road in certain areas. We became the first city in Rhode Island to receive the designation “Complete Street.” I have continued to recommend these proven concepts for development in the North End. Council supported the bike barn and pump track around Newport Heights providing children a safe place to ride their bikes.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has incorporated a bike path from West Main Road, Connell Highway, and alongside the railroad tracks into downtown Newport which will provide safe passage in this busy area for bicyclists. We have many different types of vehicles on our roads. It is of utmost importance that all follow the rules of the road, particularly when it comes to signage, stop lights, and one-way streets for the safety of citizens.
What actual steps might you take to achieve your goal? I have supported both North End Urban Plan and the Master Transportation Plan which incorporates safety measures for the increased use of bicycles and walkability in the development in the North End. Council approved a plan by Newport for all Ages which addresses infrastructure needs in the future for our Seniors and their ability to safely walk throughout the city.
In our plans DOT has incorporated a parking area in the North End for visitors to Newport.
Bike racks have been approved and provided throughout the city for the convenience of bicyclists. We will identify other areas to provide this amenity. The Council must work together to address the many different modes of transportation, and the impact and import of each of them. We have experienced an increase in motorized bikes, skateboards, and other types of vehicles which may require additional regulation in the future. I will continue to support opportunities to incorporate measures which will ensure the safety of citizens to navigate the city and encourage alternative transportation options to include walking, biking, boating bussing and autos.
Stephanie Smyth, At-Large:
(10/1/22) As Newport continues to thrive as a travel and tourist destination, and as the climate change crisis continues to grow, now more than ever biking and walking are paramount for our community. So how can we achieve this in a safe way?
Education – As with any process that involves the safety of the community, education is key. Not only is it important to provide the community with information on how to safely bike, drive, and walk around Newport but I think it is also important to provide them with information on how to be cognizant of each other and methods that will assist individuals to work towards keeping each other safe.
Enforcement – We seem to have enough traffic and parking enforcement but could use more focused on bicycling and skateboarding.
Parking – Parking in Newport has always been an area of concern. The Pell Bridge redevelopment was designed to increase connectivity to Downtown Newport and free up land for new development. Even though there are many outlets for parking in Newport, such as resident parking, metered parking, and parking lots, they are primarily located in the central part of the city where the most congestion appears to happen. Perhaps entertaining the idea of satellite parking in the freed up land from the redevelopment, that can be utilized for day visitors and the tourist population. Including bike-share options and trolleys at this satellite parking facility that can transport visitors to downtown would help in decreasing some of the congestion and could work towards making Newport less car-centric. This could assist in removing cars from the busiest parts of the city and creating more pedestrian and bicycle only zones.
Affordable housing – Until the affordable housing crisis in Newport is addressed, many people will continue to commute into and out of the city on a daily basis, which continues to put pressure on the transportation system making streets more congested and less safe for cyclists and pedestrians. The creation of an Affordable Housing Commission would be an opportunity to take a more in-depth look at the housing issues and potential resolutions.
Opportunities – The following programs could be useful in offering the community the opportunities to experience Newport in a safer way through prioritizing people over cars: bike-share opportunities in various neighborhoods of the city, and hosting open street days that close off certain streets to cars and open them to pedestrians or cyclists.
Using models from other cities –I think it is wonderful that a cycling network is in the works to connect areas of Aquidneck Island but it could also be designed to be more specific for the Newport streets. Utilizing a model or hybrid of various models, that have been successful in other cities, could help to facilitate Newport cycling network options. In 2018, New Orleans developed the Connect the Crescent initiative, which was a 3-month transportation network demonstration project. The benefits that the city experienced were cycling increased 20-84% over the 3 months of the project, illegal sidewalk/wrong-way riding decreased, there was a reduction in illegal lane usage, and fewer crashes.
I would like to commend Bike Newport for their tireless work in educating the community on bike safety, advocating for transportation equity, and providing opportunities for people of all ages to experience biking in ways that are fun and promote a healthy well-being. Thank you Bike Newport for all you do for our community.
Eames Yates, At-Large:
(10/25/22) I think we should include a big parking lot as soon as you get off the bridge where tourists can park and then take a shuttle that leaves every 20 minutes taking people directly downtown which would greatly reduce the amount of vehicle congestion and resulting safety issues, not to mention be better for the environment. We can use cutting edge eco-friendly shuttles. This kind of thing has been talked about for a while, but I would rather work together and actually get it done by removing ego and outside influence from the equation. Let’s focus on the people in this city who have been getting priced out for years, and take care of the needs of all of us instead of the people who are just well connected.
MIDDLETOWN TOWN COUNCIL
(10/1/22) My respond will be short. Everyone must obey the rules of the road, that means everyone. Some of our roads are not safe for bikes due to the rate speed vehicles are traveling especially on the West and East Main Roads. There are potholes on all roads and one has to be aware of them Avoid talking on cell phones or even talking to someone who is riding along besides you and this occurs mainly on side streets.
Many folks do use sidewalks, but there are those who do not. They will walk on a busy and walk on the wrong side. Very dangerous thing to do, one can not see oncoming traffic coming from behind.
One new concern of mine right now are the E-Bikes which students use going to school each day. They do not obey the rules and do not care about the traffic on the side streets. Something has to be done before someone is hurt.
(9/28/22) Pedestrian and cyclist safety is one of the main reasons why I am running for Middletown Town Council. Per the CDC and the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, 7,000 pedestrians in the US die each year in crashes involved with motor vehicles. This number has been steadily rising since 2009. It is also estimated that over 100,000 emergency room visits per year are due to non-fatal crash-related injuries. During the pandemic, although traffic decreased as more people worked from home, traffic deaths increased. I believe local city and town councils are in the best position to address this public health crisis.
The root cause of this public health crisis is poor street design. No amount of ticketing, cameras, or individual responsibility can save our community from poor street design.
For example, roads like East and West Main Road are called “stroads”. Stroads are a hybrid of a highway and a street. A highway is meant for high-speed travel between two places. A street is meant for residential properties, small businesses, parks, and other productive community places. The pavement of stroads has painted lines that make it look like a highway, which signals to drivers that they should feel comfortable traveling at high speeds. But, these stroads also have restaurants, houses, parks, and schools that force drivers to make sudden and risky stops and turns. Stroads are the worst of both the highway and the street. Stroads are where up to 67% of pedestrian deaths occur, even though stroads only make up about 15% of all roads.
My long-term vision is that we turn our stroads into streets. This can only happen if we create enough housing opportunities for everyone who works on the island to also live on the island. This will drastically decrease traffic and make it feasible to decrease driving lanes on roads like East and West Main Road. In turn, this will allow us to implement protected bike lanes and sidewalks on these roads. This is a long-term goal which may will take years, likely decades, to complete. This is a long-term goal we need to start planning for today.
My immediate vision is for every street to have sidewalks and bike lanes. Ideally protected bike lanes. We need more safe crosswalks, especially around our schools, parks, beaches, and in front of our library. We need traffic calming measures like speed humps, speed tables, raised intersections, and roadway narrowing implemented in high traffic and high-speed areas. We need raised crosswalks and crosswalk lights that prioritize pedestrian crossings. We need to maintain our crosswalk signals. Sidewalks should be accessible and large enough to accommodate individuals who use strollers and wheelchairs. Protected bus shelters with seating should be at every bus stop so folks waiting for the bus do not need to wait in poor weather conditions. Lastly, adding complexity to streets such as trees, benches, bollards, and streetlights will improve the experience of the pedestrian or cyclist, while also visually reminding drivers: “slow down, pedestrians are here.”
Our street design currently prioritizes motor vehicle speed and volume. It feels like pedestrians and cyclists are an afterthought. As a person who walks, runs, and bikes all over the island, I can tell you that we exist, and the number of people outside of cars is increasing. I encourage everyone, if they can, to go take a walk or bike ride outside in places you usually drive. You will notice many more people doing the same thing you’re doing. You’ll observe middle and high schoolers e-biking together while heading to a friend’s house or to Frosty Freez. You’ll see families out for a walk, and a person carrying their groceries. You’ll realize you may not feel very safe at all. If we start to look at streets with pedestrians and cyclists having just as much importance as motor vehicles, we can start to create positive change for everyone.
I am a person who does not own a vehicle. I sold my vehicle due to the expense and I’m privileged to work completely from home. My main modes of transportation are walking, cycling, and e-biking. Our community should be a place where you can have a car if you want, but do not need to own a car to live here. I want families to safely take a bike ride or walk together to the beach or the library. I want kids to be able to walk or bike to school. I want anyone who desires to get outside for some exercise to safely be able to do so. This is my definition of freedom.
Walking, rolling, or riding is healthy, environmentally friendly, and our oldest way of transportation. It connects us to our community in a way that cars just can’t do. And I will add – it is really, really fun.
Thank you Bike Newport for your consideration and for this important question.
Thomas Welch III:
(10/5/22) What is my vision? Middletown needs to continue to move pedestrians away from vehicles to the greatest degree possible by providing sidewalks and crosswalks. Bike lanes need to be a high priority when road work is being contemplated. Sharrows and “Share the Road” signage need to be installed in areas where the above measures are not feasible or as a temporary measure prior to construction projects that will incorporate new sidewalks and bike lanes.
Bike lanes and multiuse connector paths need to be identified to link abutting neighborhoods. These types of infrastructure also need to be expanded to allow for safe passage between residential areas and business districts.
Steps to take? The current project on Aquidneck Ave is an excellent example of the town working with RIDOT (with help of Senator DiPalma) to improve both pedestrian and cyclist safety when a project to repave a major thoroughfare is being discussed. Currently, Aquidneck Ave (from E Main to Green End) does not have sidewalks or bike lanes. The finished project will include 5ft bike lanes in each direction and a 6ft sidewalk on the west side of the road. This type of cooperation is exactly what we need to do more of.
The town project being planned for Purgatory Road to Aquidneck Ave is also going to include a new bike lane and new sidewalk which will provide safer travel for walkers and bikers.
The town is currently looking at ways to pick up on the newly created multiuse path along Connell Highway that ends at the Middletown line. Extending this path north would greatly improve safety for the many non-vehicular travelers along this busy part of town.
I am currently part of a subcommittee with Lou DiPalma, Bari Freeman and others that is looking at creating a multiuse path/bike lane to connect the east side of town (Turner Rd) to the west side (Burma Rd). Our group is working with RI Energy, the Aquidneck Island Land Trust, and Town officials to find the best way forward.
PORTSMOUTH TOWN COUNCIL
(9/27/22) What is my vision to help people ride and walk safely in our community? Sidewalks and bike paths along all major arteries!! Honestly, nothing different from what exists in much of the midwest, west, and Europe. We live on a relatively small island, and should be able to safely ride a bike from Portsmouth to Newport, or walk to school or a local park from anywhere on Aquidneck Island.
What actual steps might I take to achieve this vision? I introduced a resolution requesting that Portsmouth develop a Green & Complete Streets Ordinance, and it was approved in September 2019. Things came to a halt with Covid and have just started gaining momentum again – we recently awarded an RFP for a feasibility study on how to best incorporate Green & Complete Streets in Portsmouth. Now we need to get all three communities to work together to fund the Aquidneck Island Bike Path!! It would provide an incredible to boost to the local economy and improve overall quality of life for Aquidneck Island residents.
(10/1/22) Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions about bike rider and pedestrian safety. Briefly, I would like to make a couple of suggestions. First, in Portsmouth we await the action of Ridot in several ways involving their STIPs programs. Sidewalks are severely needed on Sprague St., especially to accommodate those walking to and from the high school. Also, sidewalks need to be installed on Quaker Hill for those folks that have to walk to Clements Market on foot from Quaker Manor and other nearby senior living apartments. Many are forced to walk over various types of unsuitable terrain that goes unplowed, for the most part, in the winter.
Several crosswalks were “renewed” recently (at Town Hall, Hedley St., and on Turnpike Ave., near the High School) by Ridot., however, there does not appear to be plans for new Stop Lights. I suggest further signage installed in the middle of the road (flexible sign) making these crosswalks more visible to motorists. Regarding bicyclists, how about Bike Newport providing those bicyclists that bike “in the dark” with low cost flashing “identifying” lights? Perhaps there is grant money available from the state or from the van Beuran Charitable Foundation? Lastly, regarding bike safety, in 2015 the town finalized a plan to help get bicyclists from Tiverton through Portsmouth to Newport. As you may recall, working with Bill DeSantis, an engineer from VHB, hired by AIPC, with funding from the vBCF, a plan was finalized to get bicyclists to Stringham Rd and Burma Rd via a path going through the Melville Campground area. Perhaps this is another Ridot STIPS program that seems to have fallen by the wayside and/or reduced in priority, that could use some renewed interest and a little push from the Portsmouth Town Council and BikeNewport.
(10/12/22) I have and continue to support a bike path on the Island’s Westside. Our main roads, East and West Main are both too busy and too narrow to add bike lanes on them. We need to look into other options such as the center island utility right of way or the west side railway. I have worked in the past and will in the future work with RIDOT to install sidewalks where appropriate, such as Sprague Street and to install more crosswalks to allow for safe walking. We are in a tough position to install sidewalks in mature neighborhoods but we do need to make the area around the high school safer for people to be able to walk to school.
(9/24/22) I was actually in the House of Representatives when I sponsored with the Department of Transportation a proposal to make sure that all state road construction featured a bicycle area designated and I believe it has been successful. I would Point particularly to the Sakonnet River Bridge. I would want to work with people who are committed to pedestrian and bicycle safety to address concerns. I would like to see for instance a bike rack at any place that is used for a park and ride so that people can ride a bike there and perhaps take public transportation. I would like to have both the schools and the police and Fire departments involved in giving out safety garments, reflective devices, Etc, so that people would not have to choose to pay the money and would find them available and perhaps ask the police in particular that if they observe somebody on a bicycle or walking who does not have a reflective device to stop and give them one. I would also like to have events in town that call attention to the issue, perhaps a bike day or something similar a walking day so that it would get a certain amount of publicity and people would become more aware of the issue. I am not a big ‘stick’ person but I would ask the police to be conscious of any sort of violation as I quite frankly think they should be with the school buses where people seem to speed by, by informing them not necessarily by citing them because I don’t think most people want to be ignorant. That’s about it for now again I’d be happy to listen to anyone with ideas.
Thank you. Charles Levesque, Candidate for Portsmouth Town Council, 401 297 6853, 542 Park Avenue
(10/13/22) Portsmouth is a rural town with limited space and was not designed for as much traffic as we have. We are limited by space on our existing roadways. Using Wapping Road as an example, the posted speed limit is 25MPH, anecdotally the average speed is closer to 50 MPH. Obviously, drivers need to pay attention, slow down, obey the speed limit and give pedestrians and cyclists a wide clearance when passing by.
I will work closely with RIDOT and Portsmouth Police to slow traffic down and protect the rights of all pedestrians and cyclists. Thank you, Sharlene Patton, Candidate for Portsmouth Town Council – 401-207-2586
(9/30/22) What is your vision to help people ride and walk safely in our community? My vision comes from being a parent and wanting my and all children to know and have their whole community as a safe and open place to play and learn. This also includes them knowing that they can ride their bike, and walk to their friend’s house without harm due to the lack of infrastructure that ensures their safety. I believe that we should have sidewalks and bike lanes along all major thoroughfares and major points of interest across the Town. Additionally, we should invest in an island-wide bike path. This would not only allow for residents to traverse the island but also serve as an economic driver with the increased number of visitors who will come to enjoy the path.
What actual steps might you take to achieve your vision? The most transited roads in Portsmouth are also State Highways, so we must work with our General Assembly delegation in order to develop legislation and funding to improve the conditions of our roads along with safety enhancements for pedestrians and cyclists. Additionally, we need to move forward with the “Green and Complete Street” plan first introduced by Council member Abbott back in 2019. Having safe streets in Portsmouth is not only vital to those wishing to share the roads but also vital to our economic growth.
(10/12/22) As a town council member, I voted in 2019 to pass a resolution to incorporate green and complete streets policies into town ordinances and the Comprehensive Community Plan. See https://www.portsmouthri.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_09092019-980. Subsequently, the town has incorporated these policies in its latest Comprehensive Community Plan draft and has initiated a green and complete streets study and ordinance changes to help ensure that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities can more safely move along and across streets. We need to continue to ensure safety on our roads for all users, including by seeking: more sidewalks and multi-use paths, more crosswalks that are well-lit and plainly marked, and island-wide off-road bike paths both for recreation and commuting. It is absolutely undisputed that people of all ages who exercise regularly enjoy greater physical and mental health. Studies show, for example, that people over the age of 60 who walk regularly have 1/3 the rate of falls and hip fractures compared to people who do not. As a primary care physician (internist) for over 30 years, I have personally witnessed this and pledge to continue to work to ensure that our ordinances are amended to implement green and complete streets policies.
Marvin Abney D73
Christopher Borden D70
Lauren Carson D75
Terri Denise Cortvriend D72
Susan Donovan D69
John Edward IV D70
Alex Finkelman D74
Michelle McGaw D71
Robert O’Neill D69
Kobe Taylor D71
Louis DiPalma D12:
(10/2/22) What is your vision to help people ride and walk safely in our community? My vision to help people ride and walk safely in our community is to see the plan developed by the community at large, including Bike Newport, Bike Tiverton, and other respective groups become a reality. Realizing that vision will result in a Newport Countywide bicycle/pedestrian route(s) connecting Tiverton/Little Compton on the east, across the Sakonnet Bridge shared path to Aquidneck Island in the middle, including Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth, across both the Newport-Pell and Jamestown Verrazano bridges to Jamestown on the west across to North Kingstown.
What actual steps might you take to achieve your vision? To achieve that vision, I plan to take the following steps which I’ve already initiated. The first of these steps is reading and reviewing the plans developed by and with Bike Newport and Bike Tiverton. Additionally, I’ve met with Bike Tiverton and coordinated a few meetings with bicycle enthusiasts, including local leaders and Bike Newport to determine the most urgent/pressing needs. I’ve also reviewed the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) 10-year plan, specifically STIP IDs:1360, 1364, 5161, 9004, 9005 and 9201 which are all associated with the creation of shared used (bicycle/pedestrian) paths. And, critical to achieving the vision is ensuring RIDOT is aware of the priority of achieving the vision via the successful implementation of the aforementioned STIP IDs, at a minimum. To that end, I’ve already had initial conversations with RIDOT regarding this very topic. I also plan to work to secure the critically needed state funding, for some projects planned for in the out-years, and get them accelerated with a project start in the next two years.
Dawn Euer D13
Stephen Horridge D12
(10/27/22) We have been blessed with a unique area of scenic and historic beauty where walkers and bikers can enjoy its benefits, to improve their physical health and increase their peace of mind. Paths should be developed that are well-lit and designed in such a way that they can be safely accessed and easily traversed by all ages. Special design considerations including bridges to bypass danger zones will allow for safe passage throughout the entire area. A bigger vision would be to join existing paths and design additional routes to connect the entire State to bike across freely and safely.
I would initiate planning meetings with leaders in the community including Bike Newport, and coordinate with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to move the process along and cut through the unnecessary red tape. I would encourage both State and private funding to accelerate the process and see phases completed as quickly as possible.
Andrew Kelly D11
Kenneth Mendonca D11
Mario Teixeira D11:
(10/2/22) I support investments into our communities that will increase safety for those walking, running, or biking in the early and late hours of the day when the sun is not out. This would include increased investment in on-street lighting. I also support the reduction of speeds in areas of high pedestrian traffic. I welcome suggestions from the community on how to address other issues they experience while walking and biking.
Linda Ujifusa D11:
(10/4/22) My vision is to adopt the kind of “green and complete streets” vision presented by GrowSmartRI. As Portsmouth Town Council Vice President, I helped approve a draft ordinance to be sent to the Planning Board advocating for “green and complete streets.” https://www.eastbayri.com/stories/portsmouth-takes-first-step-toward-green-and-complete-streets,84752. The Planning Board discussed the draft and the town is about to start a Complete Street Study. I also worked on getting a federal grant to build a mixed use path along East Main Road between Union and Sandy Point Avenue. This is a major dangerous choke point for bicyclists attempting to traverse Aquidneck Island because it forces them onto East Main Road (Rt. 138). Although the funding for this project was ultimately not approved, it remains as part of the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) and additional funding to speed up scheduled construction will be sought.
As a state senator, I will advocate for state-wide adoption of the green and complete streets vision. I will also advocate for more state money to fund implementation, starting with returning money to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which was removed in 2019.