Riding a bicycle should be safe and fun for people of all ages, in all communities. This was the State of Rhode Island’s goal when they asked the planning professionals at VHB to help them develop a statewide plan to strategically expand their existing bicycle network to efficiently connect people and places in an equitable manner. Working across Rhode Island, our team collaborated with a geographically, professionally, and publicly diverse Bicycle Advisory Committee to develop the Rhode Island Bicycle Mobility Plan (BMP).
Social—VHB conducted extensive outreach with both public officials and through local outreach events statewide. We targeted all urban, rural, and suburban communities using user-friendly graphics that clearly defined the plan. The insight provided by the advisory committee of bike advocacy group members played a key role in increasing community engagement through activity-based workshops, interactive online feedback maps, and hands-on mapping exercises.
Environmental—One of the plan’s goals is to make Rhode Island the fist state in the U.S. to have a continuous off-road East Coast Greenway route. Another includes estimating reductions in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and vehicle miles traveled because of bicycling, providing emissions reduction goals with accompanying mode-shift estimates. These changes encourage including bicycle amenities in state and local plans and programs, all of which directly contribute to reductions in GHG emissions by encouraging bicycling over driving.
Economic—Healthy transportation options such as bicycling link communities at a local scale and help connect underserved populations to employment and housing opportunities. Our team developed an equity map to confirm that recommendations were appropriately distributed to traditionally underserved communities. The statewide equity index included factors such as age, limited English proficiency, low motor vehicle ownership, education levels, and low household income. Projects that scored higher on the equity index were ranked higher in the statewide prioritization if they improved connectivity to these underserved areas.