By: Tim Studebaker

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Woonasquatucket Greenway bike path meanders along the Woonasquatucket River, mainly through the west side of Providence.  At times, it's a secluded bike path.  But as it gets closer to downtown Providence, cyclists find themselves in bike lanes on the side of busy roads like Kinsley Ave.

Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council Executive Director Alicia Lehrer says, "People do power down this street and the one on the other side of the river.  I have to say, as a cyclist, which I am, it does not feel safe."

For some time, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council has envisioned upgrading this historically industrial one mile stretch of roadway between Eagle Square and the Providence Place Mall.  It's an area that's seeing more pedestrians and cyclists as apartments and offices take over once–vacant mills in the neighborhood.

Lehrer says, "The big change is going to be that the bike path and the walkway is going to be right next to the river, and they're going to feel safer.  There's going to be a separation between the cars and the walkers and the cyclists."

They'll also be working on ways to green up the stretch and clean up storm water runoff before it enters the river.

Lehrer says, "My goal is to have this water be swimmable and fishable."

They also hope to attract people from downtown Providence to head upstream and check out what this side of the city has to offer.

Lehrer says, "It's a natural extension of Waterplace Park and the Riverwalk that's downtown."

For now, they're in the design and public input phase.  Lehrer says construction will likely take two to three years.

Follow this link to learn more about the Greenway: http://www.wrwc.org/greenway.php

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