Last night, the Providence City Council passed Councilor David Salvatore’s ‘Green and Complete Streets’ ordinance which will pave the way for safer streets in Providence, while codifying the City’s commitment to developing infrastructure that is safe, reliable, sustainable, and accommodating to all residents.
“The passage of the Green and Complete Streets Ordinance is a big win for all Providence residents. Green and complete streets will not only improve how residents and visitors move through our city, but will also add important quality of life enhancements. This initiative will increase the number of trees in majority-minority neighborhoods, increase access to wellness pathways, and promote environmental justice,” stated Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14).
Green and Complete streets mean streets that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. The design guidelines ensure that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities can safely move along and across a street.
“Making safe and equitable streets in Providence an ordinance-guided standard is an enormous and critical step for every resident and visitor of the city, and is a dose of much-needed energy in the push for Green and Complete Streets around the entire state of Rhode Island. This is a big win that everyone should be celebrating, and the incredible support for this bill makes me confident that that’s exactly what everyone will be doing.” added C.J. Opperthauser, Co-Founder of WalkPVD and Director of Training & Placemaking at Grow Smart RI.
The ordinance was first proposed in December 2020. At that time, it was referred to the Committee on Ordinances, where residents and stakeholders submitted written and verbal testimony in support of the plan. Last night, the full Council approved the ordinance for final passage. Councilor Salvatore consulted with community advocates while drafting this ordinance to ensure that local needs are met as the City continues to move forward with street development.
“The American Heart Association (AHA) applauds the Providence City Council for supporting safe streets and active neighborhoods in the capital city by passing the Green and Complete Streets Ordinance. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our cardiovascular health. Complete streets – sidewalks that connect to parks, public transportation, and schools; roads that include designated and protected bike lanes; and streets that accommodate all users – can help us safely be active and improve our quality of life. The AHA thanks Councilman Salvatore for his leadership on this important measure, and we hope other municipalities will follow Providence’s lead,” said Megan Tucker, RI Government Relations Director for the AHA.
The ordinance also aims to visually enhance city streets by expanding exposure to natural elements, and improves environmental quality by providing for reduction and on-site pretreatment of stormwater. The Green and Complete Streets ordinance will also play a role in improving air quality by removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the city’s neighborhoods through the expansion of trees and greenspace.
“Planning, designing, and building roads that respond to the needs of all users will provide children, families, older adults and people of all abilities a variety of options for getting around –– walking, biking, taking public transportation, driving their own cars, and sharing rides with family and friends. Green and Complete Streets design allows everyone to share the road and get their own safe piece of the street. We applaud the sponsors and the city of Providence for taking up this important work,” stated Catherine Taylor, State Director, AARP RI.
The Green and Complete Streets ordinance requires the City of Providence to track the development of street performance measures, including, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant sidewalks, traffic complaints, total miles of bike lanes and an inventory of street trees. This aggregated information will be publicly updated on the City of Providence website.
“The deep and broad support for this bill shows how Providence residents are ready for safer streets and more transportation choices, and we applaud the City Council for taking swift action. While the City is making progress on our physical street infrastructure, this bill will change our legal infrastructure to incorporate and normalize Green and Complete Streets designs into each new road construction project. This is literally how we design a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future for our community and future generations”, said Liza Burkin, Organizer of the Providence Streets Coalition.
This ordinance took effect upon passage. Councilor Salvatore will be immediately working with Mayor Elorza’s administration and community stakeholders to implement this new legislation.