Greater City Providence

Annual sidewalk rant: Neverending snowstorm edition

An ongoing tradition here at Greater City Providence, the annual sidewalk rant.

So let’s start with the peeviest of my peeves, the Route 95 overpasses. This is the snow on the sidewalks on the Broadway Bridge this afternoon:


Here’s some fine citizens struggling over the bridge on foot, looks like they are returning from the mall with some Christmas gifts:


Here are those same fine citizens after they’ve given up trying to struggle through the snow and have decided to walk in the street. Risk a broken ankle or a fall on your face, or take your life into your hands by walking in the street, thems your choices:


Let’s see if Atwells is any better…




So the city will tell you that the state owns the bridges, it is their responsibility to clear them. The state also owns the Convention Center:


…and the Dunk:


So is there a reason that that little plow can’t keep going right around the corner and start clearing off the bridges? And do we expect the city to just sit on their hands and cry that it’s not their fault, or do we expect the city to actually do something about it? How about someone from City Hall call the state and say, “WTF?” Or, maybe the city could just clear the sidewalks themselves then send the state a bill.

Oh wait…


…that’s the sidewalk at the city’s Garibaldi Park next to the arch on Federal Hill. This sidewalk NEVER gets shoveled, EVER! So I guess if the city won’t shovel it’s sidewalks, we can’t rely on them to get the state to clear theirs. Which brings us to retailers.

Bret posted the ordinance regarding sidewalk clearing here. Basically it says you have four hours after daybreak after snow has fallen to clear your sidewalks. As we’ve all experienced, the snow this weekend hasn’t really stopped falling, so it is questionable as to if anyone is in violation of the law, yet. But let us put aside the law for a minute and just talk common sense. If you are going to open your business during a snowstorm, doesn’t it behoove you to clear your sidewalk so that your customers can get to you? Otherwise, why bother even opening?

Some businesses get it; The Sportsman’s Inn isn’t turning away customers:


Need a beer? Trinity wants to provide you with that beer (or Brewers Burger…):


Angelo’s up on the Hill get the gold star for sidewalk clearing:


As does Chef Ho’s, this photo is from Friday night during the height of the first part of the first storm:


I mean look at that! It was snowing about an inch an hour at that point and that sidewalk is clear. Chef Ho’s was open during the storm and they wanted customers and they had customers. Chef Ho’s gets the Platinum Star!

And some places don’t get it. This is the Atwells Mini Mart. The sidewalk outside the store is barely clear. But here’s something annoying, it is barely clear to the edge of their storefront, then the vacant storefront next to it is not clear. OK, it is not the Mini Mart’s responsibility to clear that, but do they think I parachute into their property line or something? Your customers have to walk on that unshoveled patch, if the landlord that owns that space won’t do it, do it for your customers.


Another one is Mediterraneo, I didn’t take any photos today, but as in previous years, the sidewalk outside the restaurant is shoveled, the sidewalk along their parking lot across the street is not.

And let me not miss an opportunity to do a little TPG bashing.

Sidewalk outside the TPG owned Hilton:



Sidewalks around the TPG owned Old Public Safety Building Memorial Parking Lot™:



NOT shoveled.

There was a guy sitting in a pick up truck at the entrance, I guess waiting for someone to come park there so he could take their money. Again, does TPG think people teleport in and out of that lot or something so there’s no reason to clear the sidewalks around it?

So basically, this is my same rant as every year. Downcity, the Yellow Jackets and the general togetherness of the business association and efforts by the city and state at their respective properties mean the sidewalk shoveling situation has gotten much better. But out in the neighborhoods, same old same old.

We can continue to report these issues to the Office of Neighborhood Services or our City Councilors I suppose. But doesn’t it really seem that in a modern functioning city, these things should just be taken care of?

Shoveling the Sidewalk – It’s the Law
Sidewalks shoveled? That’s unpossible!
This is how people get killed by snowplows
OK, let’s talk about the snow

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


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