Despite pushback, Elorza celebrates new South Water Street bike lane


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Mayor Jorge Elorza, alongside members of the Providence City Council, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new South Water Street bike lane Thursday.

The two-way bike lane was made possible by Elorza’s “Great Streets Initiative,” which, in part, takes select streets and transforms them into one-lane roadways to accommodate bike lanes. (The plan also includes infrastructure improvements, the addition of streetscapes and traffic-calming measures.)

Elorza believes the project will help improve safety and reshape transportation choices within the city.

“The enhancements we are seeing throughout our streets will benefit all of us, not just people walking or riding a bike,” Elorza said.

But not everyone thinks it’s good news.

Several residents and city leaders spoke against the plan last year, arguing that it would create parking issues and make the road too narrow.

Elorza said that’s not the case.

“I understand the anxiety, anytime there is change people have concerns, and our responsibility, our job is to take their concerns into account and we made some modifications based off of their feedback,” he explained. “It actually provides a number of benefits.”

Sharon Steele, the Jewelry District Association President said while they aren’t against more space for bikes on South Water Street, they’re frustrated with the way the mayor is going about it.

“The implementation is a disaster as it always is, you can go look at the Clifford Street bike lane,” Steele said. “When you are trying to get out of your car from the drivers side you cant get out of your car, you have to go out the passenger side.”

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