Greater City Providence

Slow The Hell Down

slow the h*** down 2

Photo © e_pics from Flickr

e_pics submitted the above photo to our Flickr Group. This photo is from Silver Spring Street at the entrance to Walmart. e_pics says he happened to run into the person who posted this sign who said he posted it because his daughter kept getting splashed by cars speeding down the street while waiting at the bus stop.

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Putting aside for a moment any person or political considerations about Walmart, this store fills a need for people in the city. It is well accessible via public transit, RIPTA has even printed a handy “Charles Street/Walmart” schedule (which is not available online) listing all the buses which run to this location. Being as many of Walmart’s customers are poor and do not have access to cars, this is quite smart. However, this area is not designed with pedestrians or bus riders in mind, it is designed for cars.

For whatever reason, the entrance to Walmart does not have a standard red, yellow, green traffic light, rather is has flashing red and yellow with a push button activation for the walk light. As a result, traffic on Silver Spring does not have to stop with any degree of frequency. While a flashing yellow light means proceed with caution, in practice cars simply speed down Silver Spring as if no light was there at all, as a result, people at the bus stop get splashed by speeding autos. Luckily so far, the worst that is happening to pedestrians is splashing.

When this Walmart was built, the city and Walmart had the opportunity to create a more urban friendly store. The plaza that was here was torn down to build the new Walmart, so the Walmart really could have been built anywhere on the site, such as closer to the intersection of Silver Spring and Charles Street where the Wendy’s is. The Walmart could have opened to the street with parking beside it. However this did not happen and instead we have a typical suburban style Walmart set back from the street with an ocean of parking for pedestrians and bus riders to cross in the heart of the city.

The opportunity to build this plaza better has passed, it is built. However the opportunity to ensure this area works as well as it can for pedestrians and transit riders has not passed. Turning this light into a regular red, yellow, green signal would be a first step towards calming traffic on Silver Spring.

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.


  • Thanks Jef, for putting this up and for providing an excellent summary. I don’t have too much more to add except that all the fellow who put up the sign really wants is exactly what you state: if you put in a light, make it fully functional. Given the general knowledge of the rules of the road (didn’t RI rank last?) a flashing yellow just doesn’t cut it. Certainly that could be done.

    Even with the store oriented the way it is, the entrance to the parking lot could have been any number of places, and probably still can.

    I used to work in the former Ames plaza that was on this site, it’s a bit odd to have been here long enough to see an old workplace completely removed. Silver Spring wasn’t too friendly to pedestrians then, either.

  • Jef, actually the Charles/Wal-Mart schedule, like all of RIPTA’s “destination-based” schedules (which include multiple routes on one schedule sheet), can be found online at: This link can be found from the RIPTA home page by going to the “Schedule & Fares” menu, hovering over “Bus Schedules,” and clicking on “Destination Based Schedules.”

  • A bit circuitous Stephen, but good to know it is online. It is quite handy for those who need it.

  • Agreed – it’s not the easiest thing to find on the RIPTA site, but those destination-based schedules are very useful.

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