Greater City Providence

People die reports today about the problem of unshoveled sidewalks. The problem is, quite bluntly, people die when sidewalks are uncleared and they are forced to walk in the street.

But Oleg Kotlyarevskiy, 47, wasn’t going to school on Dec. 23. It was 6:39 a.m., just starting to get light, when he was hit by a Volkswagen traveling north on Main Street in Acton. He got off the commuter rail train 14 minutes earlier and was probably walking in the road because, as police Lieutenant Robert Parisi said, the sidewalk was on the other side of the street behind a large snowbank. He was on his way to work, but he never got there. He was pronounced dead at the hospital that morning.

Deborah Hoare, 39, was also not going to school on Dec. 16, 2007, when she was walking home in Lawrence from her job at Burger King. A vehicle struck her, and she died. Joe Lynch, public works director in Shirley, who knew Hoare and lives nearby, said she was walking in the street because the sidewalk had not been plowed.

From The Providence Journal, December 20, 2007:

In Woonsocket, at 5:43 a.m. yesterday, it was still dark as 48-year-old Raymond Boucher Jr. walked south on Cumberland Street near Cass Avenue on his way to work at the CVS warehouse. Boucher was walking in the street with his back to traffic.

In Blackstone on Tuesday, Rita Plante parked her car at the corner of Michelle Lane and Blackstone Street, about 200 yards from her house, a spot she used often because parking in the area is limited.

Similar to Woonsocket, the narrow sidewalks in town were piled high with snow and ice. It was about 5:30 p.m. and dark. Plante, 50, was walking in the road with a few bags of groceries.

The police said a large white pickup truck - a witness described it as a Ford F-series with an extended cab - hit Plante from behind on Blackstone Street. The truck had a yellow snowplow attached. A second car, driving behind the truck, also hit Plante.

When rescue workers arrived at the scene, Plante was badly hurt, with severe internal injuries and multiple fractures, the police said. She died en route to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

It hasn’t snowed here in a couple weeks, but still, this morning I was forced into the street at a couple points in my walk to work. Snow is in the forecast for us tomorrow night and Wednesday. As the superintendent of public works in Tewksbury, MA points out in the article, “One storm can go into another and we haven’t even touched the sidewalks yet.” Sound familiar? As I have said before, it has been snowing in New England for thousands of years, why can’t we get this right? How many more people need to die before we start enforcing the laws? Will the city be issuing citations for unshoveled sidewalks this Thursday morning? Sadly, I doubt it.

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.

1 comment

  • This has been a major issue with me for as long as I’ve lived here. Every winter it’s the same, and every winter we hear these tragic stories. How many deaths are an acceptable price for our auto-culture? It’s bad enough that so many people don’t shovel but how about these businesses that plow out their parking lots and pile the snow onto the sidewalk? It’s just one more FU to people without a car. It’s hard to figure why any business doesn’t clear their own walks, what does that say to their customers? (do you hear me Old Court B&B?) No excuses.

Providence, RI
5:27 am8:16 pm EDT
Feels like: 75°F
Wind: 6mph W
Humidity: 58%
Pressure: 29.94"Hg
UV index: 0
84°F / 63°F
86°F / 66°F
88°F / 68°F