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Bike Trail May Come to Aquidneck Island

Carl Knoch, of the Rail Trail Conservancy led a public forum on the Shoreline Bikeway at CCRI Thursday night.

Dozens of Aquidneck Island residents and community representatives filled the CCRI auditorium, along with members of the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission and Bike Newport, to participate in a forum with Carl Knoch, of the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Thursday night's forum was the second in a series of events to educate and pique the interest of Aquidneck Islanders for the project.

The Shoreline Bikeway is a proposed 10-mile recreational trail that would run alongside the existing Old Colony railway throughout Aquidneck Island.

Newport is at a tipping point in the process, Knoch said, referring to the support given to the project by the AIPC, Bike Newport and a growing number of local residents. 

“We are further along than you think,” said. “You have the momentum. . .now you need to get it going.”

Knoch touted the Rails to Trails projects as a “great alternative” for getting from one part of Aquidneck Island to another.

Benefits of the bike trail include reduced traffic congestion, health benefits, economic opportunities and potential for residential development, he said.

Knoch said other Rails to Trails projects have spurred businesses along the bike paths ranging from equipment shops to sandwich stands to full-scale restaurants.

“The trails aren’t a cost, they’re an investment.”

Appropriate signage, fencing and barriers, as well as safe crossing points and adequate distance between the track and the trail, are all design elements to keep the bikeway safe for bikers and pedestrians.

Who would manager the trail has not yet been decided, but would likely be split between the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the municipalities the trail runs through.

Funding is also an unknown variable in the project. The project could be federally funded, or could be paid for by municipalities, private or “creative” fundraising by the community.

“I don’t think there’s a question that [The Shoreline Bikeway] would be the finest trail in the state,” Tina Dolen, Executive Director of the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, said.

In order for the bikeway to come to fruition, each municipality would have to approve it. The Department of Transportation would have the final say in the matter.

Bob Andrews, owner of the Newport Dinner Train, attended the forum and said he supported the bikeway as well and looked forward to working together on the project. 

Bill December 09, 2012 at 10:06 PM
also, i have not seen one bike using the new easton's beach bike path. but i have seen them holding up traffic at memorial and bellevue
Matt Moritz December 10, 2012 at 01:14 AM
A person on a bicycle isn't blocking traffic, they are traffic. Last I checked, every principal of road management regulates roadways as a first come first served public good. By your logic, if a person driving a Ferrari drives down the road, all the corolla drivers should pull over because they're holding up the person in the Ferrari. Your assumption is wrong. I ride my bicycle for transportation almost every weekday, throughout the year, assuming weather conditions allow me to do so in a way that I deem safe, which is well over 200 days a year. I do take the lane when necessary to prevent someone in a car from putting me in jeopardy or to properly indicate the type of traffic movement I plan to make. I don't know why a reasonable person would do something like put another person in danger simply to make a right turn, or get where they are going a few seconds faster. Unless they're a first responder with sirens, roads are first come first served. Your basic inertia example may be true, it has no bearing on the proper use of a public way. In addition, what about motorcycles and motor scooters which also have very low mass compared to a fully enclosed motorized vehicle?
Joe Sousa. December 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM
With hundreds of bridges and over passes needing repairs you would think the funds would be directed to them. We can do better if people would focus on the real problems.
Phil Hadley December 10, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Better Traveling around the Aquidneck Island, healthy and able to get to many places in Portsmouth like farmer's market's, farms, the Green Grocer. Go with it, Joe I would hope you understand this creates a huge new economic generator AND if the state was not so tied up with Union Road contracts then we would not have been reemed by them for overcost and underbuilt roads and bridges. You should garner your attention more at who is the problem and not creating pessimistic solutions to new creativity for our Island Community. One that does give massive amounts of Tax Money to the State.
mike westman December 10, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Bill....same goes for all those exoskeletons that people ride around with.....getting in the way of people walking and using non-carbon vehicles that also provide healthy exercise. Actually.....maybe those bike paths and bikers should be given a tax credit for minimizing the effects of people on the environment and a tax should be place on non-commercial uses of those carbon belching exoskeltons. What do you think? Oh.....you are stuck in the stone age

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