Street Stories: Amilcar Lopes

Name, age, any personal identities you feel like sharing, neighborhood where you live, who you live with/care for, school you go to, type of work you do or hope to do.

Amilcar “Micky” Lopes. I live off of Hope Street on Carrington Ave, right where I grew up.
I have a BA from Boston College, two masters from the University of Leuven (Belgium), and I’m currently enrolled in school to get a law degree at the University Of Maastricht (Netherlands). I’ve worked as a project manager in banking and financial services.

How do you typically travel around Providence? Is that working for you? How does it affect your life, your job, your family?

By car mostly, but sometimes on buses and by bike. You can’t really get anywhere in America without a car, because the system of transportation (roads, routes, stations, lanes, etc) is geared towards maximum use of automobile. Car is King in America, unfortunately. It affects my life and family in that I do not have a REAL alternative means of transportation other than a car. Example: say I want to go to Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro – I have no choice but to use a car.

How would you ideally like to get around Providence and what would need to happen to make that a reality?

As somebody who was born and raised here but has spent a lot of my adult years in Europe, I can say that urban transportation in Providence, and most American cities for that matter, is dismal. Ideally, I would like to get around Providence by bus (more routes), by subway/metro or tram, by scooter, and by bike.

Do you feel safe when traveling around Providence? Where do you feel safe, and where do you not?

I feel extremely safe getting into my car and driving to my location. I get out of my house, get into a car, and as I am a safe driver, I know I can expect to arrive safe and sound at my location. But I could also feel just as safe with other modes of transportation mentioned above. So for me, the question should be: how much importance do I place in having alternative modes of transportation to get around in the city? And for me, this is VERY high.

What are your favorite parts of riding RIPTA? What are the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge is that the state lacks vision and the will to address the real issue with transportation: There is no real alternative to get around the state other than using a car.

When did you start riding a bike to get around? What made you decide?

I have always used bikes to get around. But having lived in Europe for some time, I have taken an appreciation for the use of bikes to get around.

What do you think is the best way to attract more people to ride bikes for everyday short trips around the city?

Build proper bike paths, not just lines and sharrows painted on car lanes to pretend it’s a bike path. Let’s be honest, drivers do not respect bike markings done in this manner, and I don’t blame them either. What we need is a physically built path, often painted fully, separate from the car lane, and sometimes elevated from the actual car lane.

Bike paths should connect major locations (schools, city center, hospitals, major shopping centers) without interruptions. Schools (both secondary and tertiary institutions) should be encouraged/incentivized to convince students to come to school by bike.

How has Providence’s efforts to increase biking, walking, and transit use affected your driving experience or habits?

The current effort in my view is like putting a bandage over a wound that requires surgery. The current effort has not affected me at all, and hasn’t had any impact on my transit use or my driving experience.

What would you like to see changed about driving in Providence?

We should move away from too much emphasis on car as king. I like my car, and would still like to use it. But streets should also accommodate other modes of transportation. At least major city ‘arteries’ should be designed to properly accommodate bikes, buses, and where possible other modes of transportation.

How could the City and RIPTA improve your experience getting around?

  • Add more bus routes.
  • Have bus routes connect different neighborhoods directly without the need to go downtown. i.e. connect Mount Hope to Mount Pleasant. Make a ‘ring’ bus route around Providence where all peripheral neighborhoods can be connected.
  • RIPTA should get involved in the train transportation just like MBTA. RIPTA should build more train stations using the current train tracks. For example in the I-95 train corridor, I can imagine the following RIPTA stations between Westerly and Pawtucket: Westerly | Kingston | Wickford Junction | Davisville | East Greenwich Marina | Station Street | TF Green | Roger Williams Park | Elmwood | West End | Federal Hill | Downtown | Royal Little Drive | Pawtucket/Central Falls Transit Center. In other words, MBTA and AMTRAK would remain as InterCity (IC) while RIPTA would concentrate on Local (L) trains. And in the future, RIPTA could also add Peak (P) – single stop- trains between Boston, Providence, and New Haven/Hartford. This is meant to transport workers between major metropolitan areas at peak hours.
  • RIPTA should build proper bus stops where ALL stops at busy locations should have shelters, seating, route schedule, route maps, tariff information, telephone numbers to relevant travel information services, and possibly electronic passenger information systems showing real-time information displays with the arrival times of the next buses. All busses should be equipped with electronic payment scanners that would allow the riders to pay the fair using their cards (credit card, debit card, cashap, Venmo, etc) just by touching their cards/mobile phone to the machine. This will no doubt be very helpful as young people are more and more are using electronic means to make payments. This is the current method of payment in most European city busses, so the technology is very much in use today.
  • Automated ticket machines should be provided at most busy stops and mobile phone technology (Apps) and QR codes should be introduced that allows next bus times to be sent directly to a passenger’s handset based on the stop location and the real time information. This is especially important to more remote stops.
  • Every bus stop should offer a transit route schedule of that entire route, from start to finish. This would show the times or frequency that a bus will call at the specific stop along that route.
    Bus stops should have safer bus stop design, ie. landing pad, and it should be elevated higher than the sidewalk, and cars should not be allowed to park at these stops.
  • A Bus and Bike Safety Act should be enacted by the State of Rhode Island, regulating the safety of bus operations, but also addresses other concerns related to infrastructure and sustainable public transit.
  • Design and construction should be uniform to reflect a local authority provider.
  • Smaller or less busy stops should at least have their own bus stop pole. Bus stop poles should be designed, and installed separate from other city poles. This pole would offer various information such as time schedule and bus numbers. (see for instance: Dublin Bus stop – Bus stop – Wikipedia)
  • The central Bus station should be removed from Kennedy Plaza, and instead a new bus station should be constructed at 11 Memorial Blvd Parking (the parking lot just Kennedy Plaza. This location is perfect since it connects to the current train station, to Kennedy Plaza (via the historic underpass underneath the Providence Historic Union Station building), to the highway, and to the Providence Mall. And it brings back the historic location as a transit hub…. Its design could look something like this: see link: busstation-leuven.jpg (1200×800) (
  • Kennedy Plaza would then be converted to pedestrian-only square full of activity life. Bars, stores, and restaurants would be allowed along the Exchange Terrance St, Dorrance st, and Washington St.