Planes, Trains and Automobiles!
Everything you need to know to get around in Rhode Island.
A CYCLIST’S TOUR OF BLOCK ISLAND
The Leisurely two- to three-hour route with stops covers about nine of the island’s ten square miles by bike.
Take a right out of the ferry parking lot onto Water Street, which curves left onto Ocean Avenue. Follow the road past the Block Island Grocery and head up a small hill to the intersection of Ocean and Beach avenues.
Take a right, then a quick left, to stay on Ocean Avenue. Notice a boat basin on your right.
At the end of Ocean Avenue, keep left to follow the route — or stay straight and you’ll wind up on Payne’s Dock, home of the killer doughnuts.
Back on route, continue to follow West Side Road. The Oar restaurant, the Old Harbor Boat Basin and the Great Salt Pond will be on your right.
After a mile or so of biking, you’ve entered the West Side of Block Island, where many residents live year-round. Keep an eye out for Dories Cove Road on the right. Bike down the dirt road for a break at the quiet pebbly beach.
About one mile later, West Side Road ends on Cooneymus Road. Take a right on Cooneymus, and keep your eyes peeled for the entrance to Rodman’s Hollow on the right. If you’ve got the energy, bike down Black Rock Road to a wooden turnstile at the trailhead. The hike through the hollow is about three miles.
Continue east on Cooneymus Road, which ends at a Native American cemetery intersecting with Lakeside Drive. Head south on Lakeside, with the back of Rodman’s Hollow and Fresh Pond on your right.
Lakeside Drive turns onto Mohegan Trail Road at the Painted Rock, a quirky island feature where tourists and residents paint the boulder with birthday wishes and the occasional marriage proposal.
Stop off at the first overlook for the Mohegan Bluffs on the right — a.k.a. Second Bluffs — for an incredible view of the Atlantic. There’s another bluffs overlook shortly thereafter, complete with a steep staircase of about 150 steps down to the beach.
Keep traveling on Mohegan Trail Road and you’ll spot the Southeast Lighthouse, which in 1993 was moved 300 feet back from the cliffs to protect the historic structure from the effects of erosion.
Mohegan Trail Road then turns into Spring Street, and it’s all downhill from here. See a gorgeous view of the ocean on the right and the sweeping lawns of the Spring House Hotel on your left. Coast carefully down Spring Street and back into town for lunch and shopping.
TWO WHEELS, TWO WAYS
These cycling enthusiasts enjoy the ride a little more than the rest of us.
Geoff Williams, bike path commuter
Hometown: East Providence
Occupation: Bioimaging facility manager, Brown University
Bike: Surly Single Speed Cyclocross or a Blue Norcross EX
Commuting history: More than two decades
The route: “If I’m motivated and have a tail wind, I can get there in twenty minutes. But it really depends on the weather. If it’s a nice day, I’ll slow down to enjoy the ride in. I live right off the East Bay Bike Path, so I hop on and head north, go across the George Redman Linear Park Bridge and around the [Hilton Garden Inn] hotel. Then I take the tunnel under the pedestrian bridge by India Point Park, which takes you up to the high point of Wickenden Street. I cross over the four-way and take Hope Street all the way to Brown.”
The mileage: Fifteen per day
Best part of the commute: “The bike path scenery — watching the colors in the trees and the migratory birds — is a really relaxing, centering way to start and end the day.”
Biking in winter: “Sometimes, the bike path is not passable, so I ride on Pawtucket Avenue. Oftentimes when I’m up there, the conditions are bad and we have snow banks and the road is already narrowed a bit. But people tend to be slightly more aware and tolerant than in the summer when they’re blasting through.”
Favorite time to ride: “Two weeks before the time change in the fall. The timing is just perfect. It’s not brutally hot or brutally cold. The sunlight is amazing and the colors are beautiful. Those evening rides home are just magical.”
Wilfred Zapata, city commuter
Occupation: Senior dispatcher, AAA Southern New England
Bike: Breezer Uptown 8 with hub-powered lights
Commuting history: Eleven months
The route: “I usually take back roads in. I cross through Mount Pleasant and over Smith Street, then I take a set of back roads just to keep me away from where there will be a lot of traffic. I head down Branch Avenue, then I take more back roads. Branch is probably the longest strip of a busy road that I’m on. It could be better, I will say. I’m close to cars and really close to the sidewalk. I’ve only had one close call, but I have had people yell at me or blame me for the traffic. I just pretend like I’m invisible and ride with the traffic.”
The mileage: Seventeen a day, including errands. (“I do everything by bike. I food shop, I even delivered a pizza on my bike.”)
Best part of the commute: “I never arrive at my destination angry. It connects me to my community. You just don’t get the same connection when you’re boxed in the car. And I was a total car person. But I fell in love with biking the moment I got it.”
How to improve the commute: “Providence is a small city, and I think more bike lanes would be the most efficient, safest way to get around. They’re conducive to mom and pop stores and they wouldn’t marginalize the handicapped or elderly, because they could be used for scooters. I’m pretty sure it would just make everyone happier. For me, it’s been one of the greatest experiences.”
WHAT WILL THE GREEN ECONOMY BOND DO FOR YOU?
In November, Rhode Islanders passed the Green Economy Bond, which included $10 million towards the state’s biking infrastructure. Governor Gina Raimondo and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) mandate that the cash is spent on actual bike path construction, projects that connect the state’s bike network and projects in diverse geographic areas. Both bike paths and protected bike lane projects will be considered. “The basic idea is we want the bond money to fund projects that can be completed soon, are reasonably distributed around the state and make connections between existing bike facilities and important destinations,” says Alex Ellis, executive director of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition. “These goals match closely to the goals the governor and DEM provided us.”