- Leaders in Providence, RI released a draft master plan for the Providence Great Streets Initiative to guide policies and actions toward safe, clean, healthy, inclusive and vibrant streets.
- The plan includes a variety of recommendations, such as improving bike lanes and street lighting, while implementing traffic calming measures to reduce speeding. One of the plan's central components is to connect every neighborhood to an "urban trail network."
- This spring the city hosted community meetings to gather public ideas and comments and incorporated them into project recommendations in the draft plan. Other information such as traffic data and previous traffic calming requests also were taken into account.
The urban trail network is intended to provide safe, comfortable and easily accessible on- or off-street paths for non-vehicular transportation.
On busy streets, the urban trails will be fully separated and protected from vehicles. The goal is to bring 93% of residents and 95% of jobs within walking distance of the trail network, up from the 21% and 37% for the existing network.
The plan puts a heavy focus on improving transportation infrastructure and safety for modes of transportation other than vehicles. It notes that every year from 2009 to 2015, an average of 150 pedestrians and 60 bicyclists were hit by cars in Providence. Implementing the plan recommendations — especially traffic calming — is viewed as a way to reduce that number.
Making it easier and safer for people to walk, bike or use e-scooters also is a way to cut down on single-passenger vehicle trips. That, in turn, reduces traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. The plan shows that about 10% of Providence commuters walk to work and 1% bike, but nearly two-thirds drive alone.
In addition to the other benefits, improving non-vehicular modes of transportation increases equity. Nearly 20% of Providence households do not have access to a personal vehicle, and that percentage doubles in certain areas.
A number of cities are implementing or updating complete streets plans. St. Petersburg, FL just approved its plan, and the National Complete Streets Coalition last month recognized 10 communities that drafted and implemented the best complete streets plans of 2018.