Greater City Providence

“Where’s the sidewalk rant?” You ask.

Here it is!

First of all, I’ll say that sidewalks on Atwells are better this year than in previous years. Saying that however is not saying very much. For example, I had to help push a woman in an electric wheelchair out of the snow and back on to the sidewalk. I don’t know where she was heading or if she ever made it there (someone in a car, swerved around her, then sat in his car and watched, contemplating helping maybe, who knows).

Looking at the sidewalk issue, the offenders by and large are businesses, parking lot owners, and the city. I walked along the residential portions of Federal and DePasquale and the sidewalks were all clear and mostly almost dry there.


Sidewalk Gold Star goes to Angelos as always. This sidewalk was actually clear when I was walking around in the blizzard on Sunday morning. Notice the sidewalk is clear all the way into the street so pedestrians can get from the crosswalk onto the curb.

Parking lot on DePasquale

This is where the sidewalks on DePasquale stops being clear, right where there are parking lots. You know, when people park, they get out of their cars and become pedestrians. It is true! I’ve seen it happen!

Parking lot on DePasquale

Parking lot across the street, so neither side of DePasquale has a sidewalk here. Imagine the outcry if there was still 2 feet of snow in the road instead of the sidewalks, they’d be burning the mayor in effegy.

Messenger Street Alley

While the sidewalks on Atwells are generally clear, this is a very common problem. Where the sidewalk meets the alleys (this is Messenger Street), the snow is not clear. So you have to navigate the muck. It is one of these areas where I had to push the lady in the wheelchair back up on to the sidewalk.

Bank of America Parking Lot

Generally clear sidewalk, turn around and…

Atwells at Dean

…sigh. See, the sidewalk is not cleared into the crosswalk, you have to mount a snow bank, and then once you do, there is still snow in the triangle. Although, even when there is not snow, there are no curb cuts here, so that lady in the wheelchair is shit out of luck regardless of the season.

Atwells at Dean

The other side of Dean Street you have this. The sidewalks behind me in the photo are clear, but the access to the crosswalk is not. The Snow Removal Ordinance requires that this area be cleared.

d) Remove or cause to be removed all snow from pedestrian-access ramps cut into street curbs bordering said building or lot;

It is never done.

Mediterraneo Valet Lot

Another parking lot, the snow is piled up in the sidewalk like this every year.


Did Ricotti’s go out of business, are they closed for the holidays? I’m not being facetious just because their sidewalk makes it impossible for anyone to reach them, they looked closed. Closed or no, they still need to clear their sidewalk by law.

Vacant storefront

More vacant storefront goodness. This packed ice will likely be here well into the new year.

Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park, the city’s domain. It looks like an attempt to clear the sidewalks was made here, which is quite impressive because that never happens. But the plows came by again and dumped snow right back onto the sidewalks, sigh.

Garibaldi Park bus stop

Bus stop here is kinda clear. The ad in the shelter is different than it was Sunday, someone was determined to change that ad!

Atwells at Dominica Manor

But see how the bus stop and sidewalk can be completely clear if you actually put a modicum of effort into it. This is outside Dominica Manor, directly across from the other bus stop and Garibaldi Park.

Vacant building

Would someone please buy me this vacant building at the head of Atwells and give me money to fix it up!? I promise I will shovel the sidewalks. Notice the pedestrian in the street.

Atwells at Service Road

The printing company between the vacant white building and the corner clears their sidewalks, but…

Atwells at Service Road

The Atwells Bridge. You know, I don’t really care if this is city or state jurisdiction, I blame the city. If it is city jurisdiction, then they should be clearing it. If it is state jurisdiction, then the mayor and city council should be making damn well sure the state gets it cleared. See how either way, I get to blame the city?

Atwells at Service Road

Atwells Bridge over Route 95

Same story at the Broadway bridge and every bridge in the city.

Broadway Bridge over Route 95

Broadway Bridge over Route 95


More Broadway, I think with the Textron Academy across the street, this is technically a school zone.


Mister Mayor, these conditions do not a city where one can live without a car make.

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.


  • I sent this link to Lombardi’s office. Even in front of his office there’s a huge patch of variable surface ice.

  • His district straddles Route 95 and is effectively cut in two by the fact that the bridges are not clear.

  • Let me just talk again about this bus stop for a second:

    Garibaldi Park bus stop

    The sidewalk is clear(ish) but how the hell are you supposed to get from the bus shelter onto the bus? And notice all the cars parked at the bus stop.

  • Oh, and the Dancing Cop was at DePasquale and Atwells, so traffic on Atwells backed up onto Dean, onto 6/10, and onto 95 was a clusterfuck. He is a menace!

  • Not surprisingly, similar on my walk to work from Eagle Square down Valley towards Olneyville, or even Summit neighborhood. Hopefully I’ll have photos and complimentary post for those neighborhoods at my blog soon.

    Donigian Park and the bridge over the Woonasquatucket on Valley are uncleared and with just enough businesses and properties not clearing their walks, crossing in and out of the street is required.

    And I’d like to thank whoever clears the sidewalk for the stop at Atwells and Tuxedo…too bad the gas station plows their snow onto the sidewalk.

  • Matt, please post your links if/when you post photos.

    I always mean to get out to other neighborhoods to spread the rant love around. But the very thing I want to rant about, the inability to navigate the city on foot, keeps me from doing so.

  • i am laughing in horror that the bus shelter ad was changed, but not shoveled.

    I truly believe that the city could either make money or break even by employing a group of people (youth? out of work worker bees, clean scape? Crossroads?) to shovel out bridges, walkways etc, and then put a lien on the property until the bill (maybe it is per running foot or something) is paid by the property owner.

    I am willing to bet that it happens in other cities but for whatever reason it simply is impossible here

  • Jen, I just did a new post for the shelter ad business.

    I think with the help of the city, a local non-profit could actually create some sort of self-sustaining business out of snow removal. Gather together a band of workers, students, people from Crossroads, people who want to make a buck… and put them on a call list. Set up a system whereby residents can call and pay someone to clear snow when they don’t feel like it (revenue). Pay the workers, and put the remainder of the revenue toward the non-profit that runs this, and toward charity removal. Elderly and disabled people could register for free or reduced price removal service from these workers.

    If the system does not generate enough revenue, fines could also be applied to the operation of this program. I’m sure there are enough people out there that would love to be able to call or register for a program where vetted people come out to shovel. With enough revenue the program could even get some trucks and snow blowers.

    The city and state could also pay to use these workers for areas like the bridges. I’m imagining some gripes with cross-union issues…

  • Just to add to what Matt said, I was disappointed as I walked to 7 stars yesterday on Hope to note that their plowman had piled all the snow on the sidewalks at each end. Here is a business that is almost completely reliant on foot traffic (even if the foot traffic is cars parked on Hope St.) and when I complained to the manager I got a “oh, hmm” kind of thing.

    Meanwhile, though I did not take any pictures, the mommy brigade had to wheel strollers on Hope St., which had cars parked even though the parking lanes were half full of plowed snow and was essentially a one lane road.

    I think a big problem is that plow guys are paid to come in, plow, and move on. You would think the city would go after this free revenue especially for clearly dangerous situations.

  • This is from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Apparently this is the most used pedestrian bridge in the state of Pennsylvania, and of course, the sidewalks are not clear.

    Misery loves company I suppose.

    I was going to do a similar video on Atwells, but there weren’t enough people walking, I think everyone has given up.

  • The situation around Point St./Wickenden/Eddy is pretty bad. I snapped a few photos today and I’ll post them tomorrow. Parking lots -do- seem to be the worst offenders, next to the city itself.

    Hundreds of people cross the Point St. bridge by foot every day, and it’s impossible to do that right now because it wasn’t cleared. That kept dozens of hungry jewelry district workers from walking to Wickenden for lunch or last-minute shopping for the last few days, myself included.

    There needs to be an easy, low-paperwork way to get the city and business owners to clean up their acts. I’m thinking about something like a lien, but less paperwork. If a business hasn’t cleared their property of snow in a timely fashion (24 hours?), the city calls in a company to do it, and then charges the business for the removal, second offense and increasing fines get tacked-on to the removal. There should also be a way for citizens to initiate the process, like a the ticketing system we use at work to make sure problem requests get tended-to. Unfortunately, I’ve had the police tell me one too many times that ‘I know this guy, I’m not going to fine him’ to trust this to happen out of the goodness of their own hearts. Frankly, every police call should get a ‘tracking number’, like I get when I call customer service, but that’s another issue.

  • I have wasted too many hours calling the police, public works, mayors office, and getting a blank stonewall. The only explanation I can figure is that if the city were to begin enforcing the sidewalk snow clearing ordinance, they would have to hit nearly all of the politically wired landlords. (Exhibit A: Carpionato’s oh-so-classy University Heights)

    Much easier it is to raise money by perpetually fining the hapless folks too powerless to even command an overnight parking space. The towing companies can enjoy a windfall ransoming parking-ban towaways, but

    with the help of the city, a local non-profit could actually create some sort of self-sustaining business out of snow removal…

    We can only dream!

  • A non-profit or some kind of program would be awesome, but i guarantee the union goons at Public Works would be up in arms because that’s their job, even though they can’t even plow correctly. My street has about an inch of packed snow on it still with no hope of it ever being removed. In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen even my street plowed fully was when my neighbor got into a yelling match with the plow driver because my neighbor put his car in the street to clear his driveway and the plow happened to come. After the yelling match, the plow driver took “revenge” by making several (4-5) runs up and down our street plowing right up to the curb.

    Anyway, my street is halfway decent when it comes to people shoveling. There’s one house where the landlord has the parking area plowed parallel to the street piling the snow on the sidewalk, creating a big wall. The big problem is Chalkstone, which gets a TON of foot traffic all year. Walgreens is the worst offender. Normally they plow a 1 foot wide path through the snow along the sidewalk, this time they did nothing. I’ve already written my councilman about it.

  • Jef, I’m surprised you didn’t take a picture of my cafe. I worked my tail off this year to clear a path from the corner of Pequot St. going all the way down to Bond St. You’re absolutely right! It’s unbelievable how the city and business owners don’t provide a proper path for pedestrians to walk. I’m always out in front of my cafe sweeping, picking up garbage and shoveling. I even go around to my neighbors on Bond street to shovel> They’re older ladies and they can’t do it, God forbid something happened and an ambulance needed to get in… Please keep an eye on me and let me know if I’m ever slacking. Thanks

  • Mario, Bradford or Longo? That side of Atwells needs extra vigilance since it is in shade all winter, any snow that falls, even a little, is there for the duration. I think I get so annoyed by the sidewalks at Andino’s parking lot, Sona, and next to the Atwells Mini Mart that by the time I get home, I’ve forgotten any sidewalks that are clear, and am just annoyed by the ones that aren’t.

    I have noticed that the sidewalks at that white house have been clearer, they were never touched at all in prior years.

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