WESTERLY — A newly envisioned bicycle route is intended to make it easier for those who live in the downtown area and depend on pedal power to get back and forth to work and other important destinations, officials say.
The town was approved for a $37,000 grant by the state Department of Environmental Management last month to develop the “Westerly Downtown Loop” bikeway. Lisa Pellegrini, director of the town’s development services department, reviewed the grant and plans for the loop with the Town Council on Monday.
The grant provides for “shared lane” epoxy resin pavement markings and the installation of signs allowing cyclists to use the full lane in the downtown area on the following streets: Canal, Friendship, High, Granite, Broad, Elm, Main, Union, Beach and Wells streets, and Grove Avenue.
The road markings and signs will follow the guidelines of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Pellegrini said.
Some councilors expressed misgivings about potential safety problems.
“Given the narrowness of some of these streets, particularly High Street, are we going to put people in jeopardy?” Councilor Jack Carson asked.
As long as the markings and signs meet the applicable codes and are approved by the state Department of Transportation, the town will not “see any liability as a result of accidents that may or may not happen,” said Dylan Conley, town attorney. Conley is an associate in the law firm of his father, William Conley Jr., who usually attends the council’s meetings. The entire firm represents the town.
Pellegrini said the marked pathway is likely to increase safety by helping to make motorists more aware of bicyclists. She also noted that increased safety for bicyclists emerged as a theme during a forum on biking conducted in October at the Westerly Library.
The loop will help people who depend on their bicycles to get to and from work, medical appointments, or local stores, Pellegrini said.
Carson also asked Pellegrini to consider adding Margin Street to the loop, saying the street is a popular one for bicyclists who wish to avoid parts of Beach Street.
The council is expected to consider a resolution to officially accept the grant funds at a meeting in the near future.