On October 13th, 2021, Newport’s City Council voted unanimously to pass the Green and Complete Streets Policy, an important step to ensuring that transportation projects are designed with consideration to all road users and the environment. This policy is the third to be passed in Rhode Island, after Central Falls and Providence.
The policy is a statement of goals and best practices that will support designing safe and green streets, complementing the upcoming Newport Transportation Master Plan, the North End Urban Plan, and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. In addition to the policy, a new city ordinance was passed. This was done so to require all street and public right-of-way projects to conform to the policy, and the council need only amend the policy by resolution and need not amend the ordinance.
The Green and Complete Streets Policy states that it “will ensure that every project serves all road users, modes of transportation, and property abutters, and also enhances the natural environment – with the goal to create, through a public and open process, a connected network of high-quality rights of way and open spaces providing public access to the water, accommodating all modes of travel and all transportation users, including people with mobility issues.”
The policy was written collaboratively by the HEZ Transportation Working Group, Bike Newport, Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, Grow Smart RI, and the City’s Department of Planning and Economic Development. At the City Council meeting, preceding the Council vote representatives from these groups shared their support related to their own experiences:
“I have helped and put together the Green and Complete Streets [Information Brochure]. I have worked on this, put my ideas into this, and it’s taken us over a year to do put this together.” – Elizabeth Davis, Commissioner on the Newport Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission
“People want to ride bikes in our city, and these are the people that I work with in the community. I am teaching people to ride safely and confidently and the city can help to add to this by making our roads safer.” – Marissa Caito, Educator at Bike Newport
Green and Complete Streets lays the foundation for improving city streets for all road users, including improved safety, access, mobility and connectivity; increased green areas; improved separation between vulnerable road users and motorized traffic; and better management of environmental threats including carbon emissions and stormwater runoff.