Street Stories: Martin Lynn

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.

Martin Lynn, 35, musician & recent Computer Science Bachelors graduate, East Side of Providence, RI.

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

Transit is extremely stressful as I have a disability. It makes it almost impossible to get to work consistently. The RIPTA RIde times are also unnecessarily long. It makes it difficult for me to keep stable employment during a difficult job market.

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

I would like to own an electric scooter. I feel like it would have the lowest impact and also make it easier on my disability. Unfortunately, the state does not require long term parking spaces to have electric vehicle hookups. As well they have no serious plan to meet grid demand for them, or create or empower others to create the charging stations needed (even when major car manufacturers like Volkswagen have stated publicly they will be all electric in the near future.) So I’m not sure how I would connect my E-scooter to the wall.

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

On foot yes. In a car yes. On a bike, absolutely not. It’s well known by cyclists that A) the roads aren’t in good shape B) There’s a 50% chance on any given day that a jerk who thinks they’re morally superior to you will try to bump you off of your bike while they shout out the window at you that you shouldn’t be on the road C) The cops absolutely don’t care. D) There are very few bike lanes, and the plans for bike lanes in most places in the state (in Providence, Newport, all over the state) are being fought by RIDOT and are subject to massive red tape, in some cases delaying projects by over a decade.

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

They could actually hire people who care about public transit to run RIDOT and RIPTA, and they could probably 10x their investment in public transit infrastructure. We have the beater car of bus lines. Of course it’s going to run like crap if you spend so little on it.

What do you think is the best way to attract more people to ride RIPTA?

Pretend like you actually want the service to have: 15 minute max wait time, 5 during rush hour, comprehensive coverage around as much of the state as possible, ride times until 2:30 AM on Fri Sat. Design that system, budget it, and then be very clear when the state is or is not hitting the funding goal needed to bring RI at least into last century, if not this one.

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

I honestly extremely dislike RIPTA. I don’t love being on public transit as I’m disabled and it’s overwhelming to me. But I like trains. They’re pretty quiet, way, way less rickety than busses, and much, much faster.

What do you think most contributes to a walkable environment? Where do you find that in Providence, and where do you not?

Streets that are people first and not cars. Sidewalks just aren’t wide enough. We take it for granted because it’s always been that way, but imagine if you could just walk wherever you wanted on Atwells all the time. There would be so much more going on in that district. It would be a more interesting place. People might have stalls outside, more entertainment. You could bring your family there. It would be much more disability friendly. You can already barely park or drive there anyways. I feel like we’ve devoted so much space to having 2 ton vehicles be able to fly through at 30+ mph. Can we put some focus back on people?

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

When I did have a car, it had almost no effect. If anything, transit was faster because you didn’t have to slow down to go around bicyclists, they just have their own lane now. But it’s Rhode Island. People are going to complain about anything.

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

Honestly, a push to EV ASAP to combat the climate crisis.