PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence businesses are at odds over a bike lane trial scheduled to start Friday on the city’s East Side.
The Hope Street Temporary Bike Trail will replace 132 parking spots over a one-mile stretch of Hope Street from Sept. 30 through Oct. 9. The plan has drawn concern for safety and congestion from some business owners, while others are praising the project for increasing access for bikers.
Ben Bassett, of Trek Bicycle, said the project will increase pedestrian safety by giving bikers their own lane.
“I think it’s great because we constantly see people riding their bikes on the sidewalk, so it kind of will deter from that,” Bassett said. “Also, it’s good for the planet.”
Other business owners are concerned the lack of parking will deter customers.
“We are coming in with an open mind. We just don’t want to lose business, especially just coming out of the pandemic,” said Patricia Zacks, owner of The Camera Werks.
Mike Bryce, owner of Providence Artisans Market, said he’s concerned with the safety of the lane.
“When you are congested even more, I’m afraid for safety of people, walkers, bikers,” Bryce explained. “I’m not anti-bike, I’m pro-safety.”
The Providence Streets Coalition, a community group which favors of the proposal, said data they’ve collected shows there is enough parking on Hope Street, even at peak business times.
More than 20 small businesses sent a letter to Mayor Jorge Elorza and the City Council asking them to halt the temporary bike lane.
There is no funding allocated for a permanent lane at this time. During the trial period, residents and business owners can give their feedback on the bike lane, according to the Providence Streets Coalition. The city and community groups will then use that data to plan similar developments.
The groups supporting the proposal will release the findings of the trial at the end of the year.