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Cyclist lines up 72 plungers along Providence bike lane to promote safety

Long-time bicycle commuter Jeff Leary lined up 72 plungers along the white-painted border of a Providence street. (WJAR)

People walking or commuting on Fountain Street in Providence were welcome to quite a surprise on Thursday.

Plungers.

Seventy-two of them were lining the white-painted border of the street's bike lane, complete with yellow reflector tape on the top of the handle.

“I’m walking down the road, I see plungers on the street, I’m thinking, ‘Why?’” said Connor Evans, a sophomore at Bryant University.

Classmate Vanessa MacMillan was equally surprised.

“Plungers aren’t really something you want to see on the street,” she said.

They were put there by long-time bicycle commuter Jeff Leary, one day ahead of National Bike to Work Day.

“The city could’ve gone one step further by putting in flex posts and it would’ve been a signal to drivers that, ‘You really don’t belong over here,’ and park in the middle," said Leary.

He acknowledged Mayor Jorge Elorza's pledge to make the city more accessible to bicycle commuters, but thinks a little more needs to be done to enhance safety measures.

“I would like to see the transportation department and the highway department be a little more proactive when these sort of things are implemented – to really go all the way with it," he said.

Fountain Street is newly-designed in a way that most area drivers are not used to. The bicycle lane is along the curb going east. Next to it are parking spaces that border two lanes of traffic with parking on the far curb, as well. People that park on the side of the street with the bike lane have to cross the bike lane to feed the meter.

“The parking meters are right next to the bike lane, so I think that’s just what makes people (confused)," said Providence resident Chris Anderson. "They’re (usually) parking on the side, so that’s a new thing.”

A spokesperson from the mayor's office told NBC 10 on Thursday that even though they were not put there by the city, the plungers will stay unless they create a problem.

The city is also working on making improvements to the bike lane and said more will be done by the summer time.

When asked her reaction to the plungers, a city spokesperson responded, "We think it's a creative solution to an existing problem."

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