Street Stories: Lizz Malloy

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 Lizz Malloy, I am 27 years old, and I live in Elmwood. I work as a Program Coordinator for Movement Education Outdoors, and as the Coordinator for the Young Farmers Network of Southeast New England. I also serve on the PVD Tree Plan and Rhode Island chapter of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assist Network steering committees.

How do you typically travel around Providence? Is that working for you? How does it affect your life, your job, your family? How would you ideally like to get around Providence and what would need to happen to make that a reality?

I have the privilege of getting around Providence by car. On days where I have a little more time on my hands I prefer to walk or bike. Size wise, Providence is a great city to get around by walking or biking and ideally, I would prefer to have that as my main mode of transportation. However, cyclist and pedestrian friendliness is pretty spotty here, which is extremely unfortunate. As a city of this size, walking, biking, ADA compliance, and public transit should be a much more heavily focused on and valued topic of discussion in the city.

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

I am a pretty cautious biker, I know a lot of people who have had some very drastic biking accidents. That being said, nothing makes me happier than getting around by bike – it gives me more time to actively engage with my surroundings and gives me that endorphin boost I need for the day. Unfortunately, accessibility and safety is spotty for folks who do not drive to get around the city. There is no uniform level of safety for those who wish to engage in or rely on forms of transit other than car travel. Because of this when I bike and walk around Providence I am on pretty high guard. In terms of attention and dedication to cyclists and pedestrians, it seems that the East Side gets a lot more resources than other neighborhoods in the city.

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

Providing safer, more accessible bike lanes for those to travel on. Living off Elmwood there are some markings on the roads that indicate shared passage for cyclists, but that really only means something if you already know what those markings mean. I really like the separated bike lanes that are colored in. I know that they involve more upkeep, but those bike lanes provide more of a visual for drivers so that they understand that those lanes are a dedicated space for other forms of transit. These lanes also provide safety of passage for those with mobility impairments that do not feel safe on the, often, unmaintained sidewalks. I see a lot of folks who rely on wheelchairs and who have visual impairments who have to walk in the street because the sidewalks do not allow them safe passage, but there is no safe space for them in the streets either. It should not be this way. Distinct and thoughtfully designed bike lanes can help a lot more folks than just cyclists.

What’s the best part of walking around Providence? What’s the worst part? 

Like I said, Providence is a great city to travel around on foot if you have time and ability. It is a wonderful way to know what is going on in the city, to take a breather during the day, and bond with the community. The worst part though is how unkempt, uneven, and unreliable sidewalks around the city are. My mother has severe mobility issues, and one thing that constantly crosses my mind is how my mother would absolutely not be able to walk around this city except for in very specific spaces that often almost exclusively serve folks of a higher income. I love walking around this city but to say that the pedestrian infrastructure is anything less than hostile to some of the most vulnerable populations would be a lie.

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

As a driver, I honestly feel safer when there is a dedicated bike/pedestrian lane for folks to use.