This Friday is National Bike to Work Day and at least one Rhode Island city is making some noise about it. Newport, with it’s Bike Newport organization leading the way, is hosting its fourth Bike to Work Day.
Aside from the obvious choice to make every effort to bike to work on at least that one day, the organization stages activities throughout the day with support from the city and merchants. There’s a Bicycle Commuter Breakfast provided by three eateries; an afternoon press conference on the steps of the Courthouse regarding bicycle-friendly news and announcements by Bike Newport, Newport Public Schools, the city, the police department, and the Newport Housing Authority; and awarding of the 2014 Bicycle Friendly Business of the Year; a bike decorating contest, and a six-mile group ride around the community that ends with a downtown party featuring live music, refreshments and opportunities to register bikes with the city.
Last year, 300 people took part in Newport’s Bike to Work Day, and 80 joined the afternoon Community Ride. In a press release announcing this year’s event, Bike Newport leaders said they hope to see “both numbers topped this year with many more people opting to choose the method that burns calories rather than fossil fuels — reducing traffic and increasing enjoyment in the process.”
And they are trying to make it easy to participate as well. For those who live either too far outside the city or on a route too dangerous for biking they are suggesting that their Park ’n Bike lot at Bike Newport’s office be used for those who want to bike the remaining one mile into town. They also suggest using the RIPTA buses with bike racks.
Why so much in this space about a Newport event?
Because maybe we can start something by sharing the news. From Stonington to Charlestown, civic and government leaders have talked about bike paths and biking initiatives to get more people out of their cars and creating more of a bike-friendly feel throughout the region.
Bike Newport and the city of Newport clearly have a format that can be adopted locally so there’s ... no need to reinvent the wheel.
And we’d like to believe we’re getting closer to reality on this front as a region.
Last week we learned that an anonymous donor is out there just waiting to provide $50,000 toward a bike path in Misquamicut. We learned of this through an outside organization’s (Global Green USA) tour of the area during which they called for a bike path along Atlantic Avenue and one that would circle Winnapaug Pond. Charlestown Town Council President Tom Gentz and Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek have talked about initiatives to add bike paths in their respective towns. In Westerly, Fred DeGrooth, an avid fisherman and boater and a boating columnist for The Sun, is working to create a citizens’ committee to lobby for bike lanes and bike trails.
There is so much desire. Many feel it’s just the right thing to do. We clearly have the will. Now, who will lead the way in finding the way?
For more on Newport’s initiative, check out bikenewportri.org. They’re on Facebook and Twitter, too.