I decided to transform frustration with cycling in urban environments into productive procrastination by mapping some of the best routes from the East Side of Providence near NBX Bikes to the Rhode Island and Massachusetts countryside: Check out the web map here: www.josephholler.com/maps/cyclepvd.html
If you are located in the Providence region and browsing the map with location services enabled, the map will display your location with a blue circle symbol. The map will also pan to your location if the map is significantly off-center by 3/4ths of the map width or height.
Please be aware that routes have no guarantee of safety and conditions change frequently. Please click or tap the red and yellow markers for cautionary notes and advice. Hover over routes and points to see labels, and click on routes and points for additional notes.
Learning routes around Rhode Island takes patience. You’ll have to remember innumerable turns, pay attention to road names changing from town to town, and expect that road signs are often missing or bent. Some routes displayed as bicycle-friendly by Rhode Island DOT maps and Google Maps are actually quite dangerous. For example, Branch Avenue where it crosses I-95 is designated as a phase II bike route, but I find the Smithfield Ave bridge to be much safer with its traffic light controls (even though the pavement is starting to break up in spots).
While you’re planning a ride, I suggest using a web map and Google street view to inspect roads and intersections. Many local riders follow arrowed routes, such as those of the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen. Ultimately it’s worth the patience: Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts have a wealth of winding, shaded country lanes, rolling hills, and scenic destinations.
For hard copy maps, I use Great Swamp Press Bike and Road Map of South County, Rubel Bike Maps of Massachusetts, and both cartography shops make great cycling maps. I also use the RI DOT’s Statewide Bike Map (but the RI map omits many useful road labels and side-roads), and the American Map “Blackstone Valley” maps of Rhode Island and Massachusetts (but these seem to be out of print now).