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Tour de Rhode Island

By PHOENIX STAFF  |  May 28, 2014

FOLK'S SPOKES A bike wrangler at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival.

Not your typical bike gang _by Philip Eil

NAME | Bike Newport

LAUNCHED | May 2011 (on Bike to Work Day, to be exact).

MISSION | “To improve, encourage, and facilitate bicycling in and around Newport for the health and well-being of our youth and families and as a viable and enjoyable method of transportation for residents and visitors.”

WHAT THEY DO | A lot. Bike Newport runs bike skills and safety classes, organizes group rides, and operates a Bike Library, from which bikes can be borrowed free of charge. They’re also known for raising funds to help Newport’s bike-dependent workers get the proper gear they need (lights, helmets, reflective vests, bells, locks) for maximum safety. You might have also seen their mobile bike-powered charging station, which allows folks to pedal their way to a refreshed smartphone battery. Oh, yeah, then there was the time in 2013 when they helped more than 800 bikers rack and lock their bikes each day at the Newport Folk Festival. This year, they’re preparing for 1000.

MAPS | Bike Newport’s got ’em. Log on to their website to find maps of Aquidneck Island criss-crossed with routes that roll past mansions, bird sanctuaries, state parks, beaches, bridges, and, of course, bathrooms. The maps also point out one-way streets, steep grades, and bicycle repair locations.

LAURELS | Bike Newport is notable not just for its recent Outstanding Smart Growth Leader award from Grow Smart RI, but for their work securing Rhode Island’s first Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) distinction from the League of American Bicyclists. The award, given last November, brought with it a nice bit of historical symmetry: Newport was the home of 1880’s inaugural meeting of LAB’s predecessor, the League of American Wheelmen — an event recognized as the birth of the US bike advocacy movement.



Next page: Providence has a bike "master plan," but is it any good?

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