A Guide to Biking in Providence, RI
Founded in 1636, making it one of the US’ oldest cities, Providence’s compact layout offers visitors the opportunity to explore the city’s many distinct neighborhoods by bike. Boasting nearly 1,000 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in close vicinity to downtown, Providence offers a taste of the area’s prosperous manufacturing history with no shortage of interesting arts and culture events and attractions to be found. “The cultural estuary of college kids and immigrants,” said Richard Fries, co-founder of the Providence Cyclo-Cross Festival when asked what makes the city so attractive to visitors. “You can go from Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel where The Hives are playing and a block over is the best Mexican food in the Northeast. There is not a chain restaurant to be found downtown. Brew pubs, cafes, hotels, restaurants are independent and vibrant.”
According to East Coast Greenway trail coordinator Eric Weis, “When you’re on a bike [in Providence], you’re going the proper speed to see it all. It’s better for people-watching too, and no parallel parking necessary.” Among the many attractive neighborhoods throughout the city, including Federal Hill, College Hill, downtown, and the Jewelry District, are seven higher learning facilities including the stunning Brown University campus. When not on a bike, visitors can also explore the city by hopping on a sightseeing gondola.
Cyclovía Providence has been opening the streets of several of the city’s distinct neighborhoods since 2012. Attracting visitors from around the world, the more than 80 bonfires of the WaterFire sculpture are a must-see along Waterplace Park. Weis added, “Locals also come out in droves for a variety of creative and niche events like Foo Fest, the New England Builder’s Ball, the Steel Yard’s annual Iron Pour, the Festival of Children’s Books and Authors at the Lincoln School, and the KMC Cyclo-Cross Festival in historic Roger Williams Park.”
Head to Greater Kennedy Plaza to find a rotating selection of food trucks. Drop in at Rogue Island Local Kitchen & Bar for approachable farm to table cuisine. Dine at one of the restaurants along the Providence River like Café Nuovo. “Venda Ravioli on Federal Hill is an amazing Italian grocery with a restaurant that has pasta better than anything one can find in Boston’s North End,” said Fries. “And you can park your bike right in there while you eat al fresco.”
The Renaissance Providence Hotel is conveniently located near the Amtrak station and Rhode Island State House. In the heart of downtown are the Providence Biltmore Curio Collection by Hilton in Kennedy Plaza and the Hotel Providence, along with boutique option The Dean Hotel.
Mayor Jorge Elorza’s promised bike share system is planned to launch in 2015 for residents and visitors. For rentals, Legend Bicycle is walking distance from the Amtrak station and downtown hotels and if you really plan on shopping offers cargo trailers in their rental fleet.