Street Stories: Christopher Perez-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.

My name is Chris Perez-Lopes, I’m 24 years old and I recently moved to the West End neighborhood of Providence. This is my first time living in Providence– I’ve lived in East Providence for most of my life– and it is my first time living completely on my own. I have a degree in Chemistry from URI and I currently work as a Lab Support Technician at a large biotechnology company in West Greenwich. Moving forward, I’m hoping to get more involved with infrastructure and transportation related organizations in the city.

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

My preferred method of transportation in Providence is the bicycle and it rarely fails me. I use my bicycles to go grocery shopping, visit friends, go out on dates… you name it and I’ve probably done it on a bike. I even used one to take home a 13-piece cookware set from Macy’s once! For as long as I can remember, my bicycles have been a way for me to get exercise and relieve stress, and now that they have become my preferred form of transportation they have firmly cemented their place in my life. All of my non-bicycling friends, coworkers, and family members know me as the guy that’s always riding his bike.

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

I feel like I already am able to get around Providence in my ideal fashion, but I would love to see more bicyclists out on the streets with me.

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

I generally feel very safe when traveling around Providence, but I think I might be an outlier. I’ve been riding bikes recreationally on open roads and in large groups since I was in high school so I’m very comfortable riding in traffic. The only places I begin to feel somewhat unsafe are on the extremely wide main boulevards with high speed limits and narrow shoulders.

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

I feel like the principal way that the city or RIPTA can improve my experience getting around is by adding more bike lanes. One vision I have is a bike lane in each direction of the RIPTA bus tunnel so I never need to ride up college hill again!

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

The first time I used a bicycle solely for the purpose of getting around was back when I was in high school. I didn’t have a car at the time – I got my first car when I was 20 – and I preferred getting places on my own to asking my parents to borrow a car or drop me off. During my time at URI I didn’t have a car until my 3rd semester, so I spent the early years walking and riding my bicycle everywhere. Nowadays work is the only place that I can’t really ride my bike to without too much hassle; the ride takes about 60-70 minutes in one direction.

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

I think that the best way to attract more people to ride bikes for everyday short trips around the city is to build more bicycle infrastructure. This includes bike lanes, separated bike trails – such as the one on South Water Street – and safer places to lock bikes up at relevant destinations.