Another Pleasant Valley Parkway


Pleasant Valley Parkway, tucked behind Chalkstone Avenue, is one of the nicest things about Providence. Designed by Olmsted and Associates, it’s quiet and tree-filled and lined with some of the nicest houses in town. (And by nicest I mean most aesthetically pleasing, not just that they’re big. Although some of them are pretty spacious.)

There’s just one problem: The parkway is two-way. Which means that traffic runs in both directions on both sides of the road. It’s really counterintuitive and poorly marked out, so locals drive up and down both sides of the road and everybody else creeps confusedly down the middle.

There have been some accidents along the road lately, and residents are pushing the city to turn the road into a one-way with a running/bike lane, sort of like what happened on Blackstone Boulevard recently. It makes sense, since Pleasant Valley has a lot of runners and there’s only occasional sidewalks. And while there aren’t so many bikers as there on on, say, Broadway, they do exist.

Anyway.  There’s a meeting on Monday with Councilman Solomon and some people from the neighborhood.  Capitol Ridge (700 Smith St) at 7pm.  I thought I’d pass the info along since today is National Bike To Work Day and, since I’m working out of my apartment, I don’t really have any other way of participating.

7 thoughts on “Another Pleasant Valley Parkway”

  1. Any argument about the Parkway becoming a dragstrip, about increase in carbon footprint, or (especially) being inconvenienced is simply absurd. The Parkway is already a dragstrip with people NOT moving to one side of the road when a car is coming in the opposite direction. This makes it dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, AND drivers who obey the posted speed limits (which are currently 15 MPH on the Parkway).

    I live on Grosvenor Ave, which runs between Chalkstone and the Parkway 1 block west of River Ave. It’s a small residential street with lots of children. My street is used as a dragstrip currently because people can avoid the light at River and Chalkstone by taking it in either direction. Making the Parkway one way will at least curb some of that extra traffic.

    I’ve heard arguments from people who have said that bringing their children home will be more difficult because the children are already restless and want out of the car and the extra driving will make it worse. My answer to that is it’s only half a mile. They’re also being very short sighted. What will happen when those children are old enough to walk around outside and there are people flying up and down the Parkway in both directions? Having it one way will be safer for those children.

    Some suggest stop signs at either end. Stop signs are not the answer. They don’t deter people. I’ve nearly been hit at one of those intersections because people run the stop signs that are there. Those intersections are scary with people coming from and going any direction they want. With the Parkway one way, it’s far more predictable as to where they are going. Rotaries would make it even safer.

    Once it is one way, there are plenty of traffic calming measures that can be put in place, such as speed bumps as seen on many streets in South Providence or bump outs as seen in the Armory District. They make the road more narrow. There’s also the natural traffic calming of allowing on street parking (including overnight).

    The only valid argument against making them one way would come from the city’s emergency services, and the Fire Department has signed off on making it one way.

  2. pressplayandrecord

    Let’ see what’s proposed. I received a flyer earlier this week . . . Councilman Solomon is holding an informational meeting this Monday 2/8 at Capitol Ridge (6 p.m., Club Room) about traffic safety on the Parkway. As a PVP resident, I’ve seen way too many near-hits of moving/parked cars, cars tanked into the creek and pedestrians/bicycle people/dogs nearly run down.

  3. Nearby Bicyclist

    As a nearby neighbor in Elmhurst/Smith Hill who often has cause to both bicycle and occasionally walk the Parkway, the current two-way-on-both-sides configuration IS dangerous and arbitrary, and does nothing to slow things down. As near as I can tell, such roads, when originally laid-out back in “City Beautiful” days were always meant to be major boulevards with one-way traffic on each side of the green belt. My understanding from neighbors who live on the Parkway is that this was the case here, as well, but this lapsed at some point in the past and now the place has two-way traffic on both sides, loading up paved lanes that really aren’t wide enough or engineered for such use, particularly at commuter volumes.

    I know I’ve nearly been hit at least once while bicycling, because someone in a van came out of my blind spot (and presumably theirs) in a way that would not normally be the case were it a one-way system; this was down near the hospitals, where things go a bit screwy in terms of how the roads feed together. I know I’D like to see it going back to a proper one-way system after that.

    The carbon footprint argument is specious and absurd: a change to a one-way system (what, 150 feet apart?) would ‘force’ people to drive a few hundred feet more around a single block. In a warmed-up car at city speeds, heck, even in a cold car with an open throttle, that’s laughably negligible. The commenter, sitting in their car, just doesn’t want to be mildly inconvenienced, whereas bicyclists and pedestrians, who are GENUINELY reducing their fossil fuel usage are placed in direct bodily danger by what are simply unsafe/overloaded traffic design conditions compared to what a proper one-way system with bike lanes and/or improved walking paths would provide. Again, this thing was originally DESIGNED to be one way each way, and I’ve seen countless streets like it in other cities that work just great like this.

    Getting into some kind of crypto-class-war in a reverse-snob attempt ‘not to be like Blackstone Boulevard’ does nobody any good, either: this is a simple safety and traffic engineering issue. Neighbors who want safer streets for themselves and their families are not trying to overgentrify what’s already a perfectly nice neighborhood (and even if they were, hey, it would help all of y’all’s property values – and I note, I don’t live down there and wouldn’t benefit from this except in facing less danger to life and limb when I go to visit friends throughout the area on my bike or on foot).

    Traffic patterns won’t speed up if the system is one way each way if proper traffic calming via stop signs or even lights (or the occasional raised crossing like the one by the State House) are put into place. Even if the average speed WERE slightly higher, the pattern would be less arbitrary and dangerous for all users for being more appropriate in terms of overall load to the width of the traffic-ways and more predictable in its behavior. This is RI, after all, where nobody ever uses a turn signal in my experience…if I KNOW they can only be going in one direction, it would give a lot of peace of mind.

  4. PVP resident

    No one is trying to turn the Parkway into Blackstone Blv. that’s just silly.
    As a resident of the Parkway I’ve seen countless accidents & even a death.
    It’s already a dragstrip & as for the carbon footprint all the foot traffic on the Parkway is killing the trees. A path for people would be a great addition to the parkway. I think making the parkway a more friendly place for people is a better plan than worrying about staying in your car 30 seconds longer. I don’t think 30 seconds is going to add to the carbon footprint.
    I think it’s time for people not to have to worry about a car hitting them from two directions. A plan with a lane for families, bikers, joggers, dog walkers & baby strollers that is a safe place would be great.

  5. another resident

    I was looking for info about the next meeting coming up on this plan and ran across your article. As a resident I am not concerned that making the parkway one way will “inconvenience” me, I am more concerned that making it a one way will turn it into a dragstrip. At least with two way traffic on both sides, drivers have to take some care and slow down for oncoming traffic, take that away and along with the lack of stop signs, this would become a danger zone. How about we concentrate on making better sidewalks and crosswalks and adding stop signs in all directions at the dangerous merge by Justice Street. Lets think more about safety than aesthetics.

  6. urbaniaprovri

    I concur that Pleasant Valley Parkway shouldn’t aspire to be a Blackstone Boulevard, however there isn’t any reason why PVP vehicular traffic couldn’t be better controlled. Most current PVP motorists are speeding through, not from, the neighborhood. All the major arterial roads around the PVP (Chalkstone, Academy, Smith) have exactly one lane of travel for each direction of traffic. Why then should the PVP have double the vehicular capacity for what should be a relatively quiet residential neighborhood? Unlike the Boulevard, the PVP has inconsistent or non-existent walking/biking paths so that they are also forced out onto already overcrowded roadway. The PVP has several dangerous intersections, some with as many as 8 possible traffic travel patterns. There are just too many distractions for today’s driver. One of the ways to reduce traffic volume is to reduce capacity. The PVP has to be configured to be less desirable for the speeding pass through motorist looking for a shortcut. That in turn may mean some inconvenience for the residents whom may have to go around the block to get home. Since the PVP is a scant 1/2 mile to begin with, the “greenhouse, carbon footprint” sounds trendy and noble, but really is a negligable argument, particularly when we have an opportunity to increase pedestrian safety and bike use of the PVP, both of which are better ways to reduce greenhouse gases. The only argument for the 4 lanes is simply convenience and continued appeasment to the automobile. Other improvements could include more stop signs, better traffic enforcement (I don’t even want to think about how much money the city could collect from ticketing speeders), and clearly marked crosswalks. The current PVP situation is unsustainable, unreasaonble and a safety hazard. I am glad the city is looking at this mess and hopefuly devising a solution that will work.

  7. Let’s make sure we don’t succumb to Blackstone envy… turning PVP into a one-way will not only create a no-obstacles highway in each direction it also increases the carbon footprint of every single resident along the stretch by having to drive loops to get to their side of the road. AND we force people to be in their cars longer than needed. Is that really what we want? What is the objective here?

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