2018-07-19 / Front Page

Shuttle Transports Bicyclists Across Bridges

By Eliza Radeka

Sean O'Connor and Daniel Cano Restrepo catching the shuttle over two bridges to continue their ride to the Wickford Arts Festival. Sean O'Connor and Daniel Cano Restrepo catching the shuttle over two bridges to continue their ride to the Wickford Arts Festival. Rhode Island bicyclists are skilled at avoiding summer traffic. But when it comes to riding between Newport, Jamestown and North Kingstown, bicyclists have not had many options until now.

The Rhode Island Bridge Bike Shuttle is changing that by offering bicyclists a safe and easy way to cross the Claiborne Pell Bridge and the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge.

Bike Newport launched the free shuttle service on June 30. It will run every Saturday through Oct. 13 and can accommodate up to 10 riders per trip.

Bari Freeman, executive director of Bike Newport, said the inspiration behind the service stemmed from a desire to help locals and tourists travel between Aquidneck Island and Conanicut Island.

“We’ve got so many people visiting and we don’t want them to miss out on what these areas have to offer,” she said.

Bicyclists may board the shuttle at three pickup and drop-off points: Newport Bridge Antiques, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) offices in Jamestown and the Route 1A Park and Ride in North Kingstown.

Participants take a seat on the shuttle bus, provided by the Newport County YMCA, while their bikes are transported on a RITBA pickup truck outfitted with bike racks. The service runs three times each Saturday, leaving Newport at 11 a.m. and returning at 4:45 p.m. Bicyclists can expect a 15-minute trip to Jamestown and a 45-minute trip to North Kingstown.

According to the RITBA pickup truck driver, Matt Fitch, the service has seen an equal number of tourists and locals.

“We met a guy who had ridden his bike all the way down from Canada,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. We get to talk with people who are really into their bikes and interested in biking.”

Many bicyclists travel to Newport or Jamestown for a bite to eat or to visit the beaches. According to Fitch, riders traveling to North Kingstown often stop at the Wickford Village to browse the shops. They also venture to Narragansett Village for exploring and swimming or head to Point Judith to catch the ferry to Block Island.

Lucas Larson, a senior at Brown University, learned about the shuttle on the Bike Newport website. He rode his bike from Providence to North Kingstown before taking the shuttle to Newport.

“It’s really great. I think it’s hard to do a loop of the bay without it,” he said.

Freeman hopes to see the service become a long-term program and to see it continue next summer, perhaps with additional days added to the schedule.

“It’s been great to see how many people have come together to make this work,” she said.

Bicyclists can visit ribridgebikeshuttle.com to reserve a spot.

“It requires some planning ahead of time,” said Freeman. “But we hope people will make plans and give it a try.”

Riders are also welcome to arrive at one of the pickup points to take any available seats that were not pre-booked, said Freeman. She also encourages riders to arrive at the pickup points via bicycle rather than car, to increase environmental consciousness.

The service operates with the support of the Newport County YMCA, RITBA, Discover Newport, People’s Credit Union and other sponsors including Preservation Society of Newport CountyReynolds DeWaltStandard Modern CompanyVHBBarnum Financial GroupAAA NorthEast, and Newport Restaurant Group.

Bicyclists who use the service can share their experiences and photos on their Facebook or Twitter pages and tag @bikenewportri.

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