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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. 

pferd December 07, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Who will pay for it??? ????? WILL YOU PUT ANOTHER TOLL BOOTH?????? ARE THERE NOT ENOUGH MORE PRESSING PROBLEMS??????? You want a bike path? YOU PAY FOR IT!!!
Matt Moritz December 07, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Who will pay for it? All of us, just like all of us pay for roads, state and national parks, school systems, veterans homes, etc. despite the fact that not all of us use or benefit from every one of those things. A multi-use path is a benefit to all. At its best its a transportation corridor that can reduce motor vehicle congestion on roads by allowing people who want to ride their bike a few miles to work, restaurants or shops the opportunity to do so. At its worse, its a place people go to enjoy a quiet stroll and get some physical activity into their life.
5th Warder December 07, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Sounds like a great idea and well worth the investment. I've ridden the East Bay Bike Path from Bristol up into Providence and it's amazing to see how many people use it. It would be great to be able to link the Aquidneck Island path to East Bay... be able to ride from Newport to Providence. But insomuch as there is little if any chance that the path would include a lane over the Mt Hope Bridge (too narrow to begin with) I think a seasonal bike ferry would be worth exploring... Or at least a dedicated RIPTA stop at each end of the bridge for buses with bike racks....
Npt Native December 07, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I would love it if we could get a safe biking/walking path to the Middletown Beaches and one around The Drive. I would be a biking maniac if I felt safe to do so. I rarely ride my bike because in the few occasions I've enjoyed a ride, I have been narrowly missed by cars trying to barely go around me.
barbara o'reilly December 07, 2012 at 02:36 PM
For those people who live east of the proposed trail there is still a problem on how to get there safely. Unless something is done about riding safely on East and West Main Road it will not serve that much of a purpose. If I, as a Middletown resident, have to hop in a car with my bike to use that bike trail I might as well drive the extra mile to Bristol or into Newport.
Bill December 07, 2012 at 03:03 PM
yea....you should do that, no one cares about you and your bike's problem...don't ride your bike on the highway. You shouldn't ride your bike on streets that begin with the word "route". This is a great idea...i just hope those idiots in spandex and crazy aerodinamic helmets use it also. instead of stopping in the middle of the road at stop lights.
Michael December 07, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Anything that gets me out of the house to enjoy this beautiful state is worth my tax $. Heck, my taxes pay for 2 United States Senators who get paid to pass a budget and don't see the complaints about that? What's it been now ... 4 years? Lots of waste in this state ... at least we can enjoy something our polititians can't take away. Same for the cliff walk and road to Satch Point. Fix them and we will come! There is not a state more beautiful than Rhode Island.
Matt Moritz December 07, 2012 at 03:19 PM
A person on a bicycle has every right to use nearly every road in the state, excepting the interstates. A bicycle is a means of transportation. Roads exist and are maintained at public explense to allow people and their goods to move around without regard to choice of transportation device. Just because a road is designated as a "route" makes no difference, it is a road designed for the use of people. I'm not sure exactly what your justification is: Too slow, would you then also ban Horse and Buggy from all roads? Because they don't have a safety enclosure? Then ban motorcycles too. Just because you choose to use a car to move about, doesn't mean everyone else makes the same choice or have the same financial freedom. And lastly, if a person using a bicycles is in the middle of a lane, its probably because that's the safest place to be at that moment to reduce the chance of a crash or collision. They are completely within the privileges granted to them by state law to be there.
Dale Clark December 07, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Bike paths are long over due but should be wide enough to accoumadate walking padestrains.They are a safe way to ride around and enjoy one self without the stress of all the hussle and bussel on the roadway let alone the road-rage.The bike path needs to go around the entire island and last but not least remove all the boulder's that are along the roadway on ocean drive and make a bike/walking pathway.
William Gayle December 08, 2012 at 12:06 PM
As long as they don't make Ocean Drive a single lane...
lissie leddy December 08, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Can't wait for this to be completed! Lets go!
Bruce Donald Campbell December 09, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Two of the most pressing problems are obesity (causing excruciating increases in health care) and rising energy costs. Walking and biking are two excellent ways to help confront those problems (not to mention nature-deficit disorder). I support toll booths that have pedestrian/bike lanes without fees. Spend some time in Germany and France and see those in their 60s, 70s, and 80s biking around town happily. That's the life I want for my elder years. Have to start transforming society now for that to happen to my satisfaction.
Bill December 09, 2012 at 10:03 PM
yea. everyone knows the rights of bikers. I;m just saying that a lot of them are pompus and annoying. I garuntee you that the stop lights are not made for bikers, and the people that are using their bike as transportation don't ride them in the middle of the road. but there are those people, probably you are one, that use their bike as a hobby. Those people are the ones who think everytime they use their bike like it's the Tour De France and won't the road to themselves, because they "have the right". little math problem: if a 2 ton car traveling 25mph hits a 200 pound assclown/bike going 12 mph...who dies because they were in the middle of the road?
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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