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Thayer St. bikers relegated to designated parking spaces

Bikers are a loud, proud, Thayer Street staple. But a new amendment to the city code may soon keep some of them away.

Motorcyclists visiting Thayer Street will soon be required to park in designated spaces. An amendment calling for the designation of parking spots as "motorcycle-only" was signed into law July 11 by Providence Mayor David Cicilline '83. Supporters of the amendment hope it will limit the number of bikers who choose to loiter on the commercial street.

The new motorcycle-only spaces will likely be indicated by blue painted curbs. Several parking laws were adjusted in order to accommodate motorcyclists, according to Adrienne Southgate, deputy city solicitor. While fines are still applicable for cars that park with their left wheels toward the curb or at an improper angle to the curb, they will no longer apply to motorcycles, in order to ease the accommodation of more motorcycles into the available spaces.

Ward 2 Councilman Cliff Wood said Thayer Street shop owners and patrons who were dissatisfied with the presence of bikers prompted him to introduce the amendment at the Providence City Council.

"The whole point is so that as many people (as possible) can enjoy Thayer Street, whoever they are and however they get there," Wood said. The amendment was intended to make it "easier to share the space" - not to exclude bikers, Wood said.

But biker Joseph Roman said he disagrees about the motives behind the change to the city code. "Look at all these bikes. Where are we supposed to go?" he said Thursday when he heard of the law, gesturing to about 50 bikes on Thayer Street that night.

"It will make the city more money," said another biker, Kevin Black. "That's what they want - for us to park illegally in car parking spots and then ticket us (to pay) for their doughnuts," he said.

Roman and Black were two of 10 bikers interviewed who had not previously heard of the law. Most bikers said they would not stop coming to Thayer but feared that the law would change the street's dynamic for the worse.

The amendment was modeled after a similar ordinance in Maine that "seemed to work well," Wood said. First signed into law in April, the amendment had to be changed and re-signed before it became official in July because of a technicality that prevented the amendment from applying to Thayer Street, Wood said.

- with additional reporting by Scott Lowenstein


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