Greater City Providence

Why are so many people driving up onto the sidewalk in North Providence?

WJAR: Digging Deeper: Too close to the curb?

About 15 years ago, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation put up more than 200 decorative street lights in the Centredale and Marieville sections of North Providence.

Twenty-seven have been wiped clean from their bases by passing motorists, and are too expensive to replace at $4,200 each.

Shouldn’t the title of this piece be, “Why are so many people driving up onto the sidewalk in North Providence?”

Drivers get a certain amount of real estate in which to operate in, this is called a roadway. They don’t get to swing about wildly across the roadway and a few feet on either side of it.

“Oh boo hoo, it is so difficult to drive without knocking shit over on either side of the road.”

It’s a cautionary tale for towns getting the decorative lighting, especially when the towns take possession of the projects, and are responsible for maintaining or replacing ones that get damaged.

It’s a cautionary tale for anyone walking in North Providence, look out for people driving up onto the sidewalk knocking over decorative street lights and who knows what else.

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 commented on their Facebook post with a similar idea. How about, we worry more about people who can’t dive?

  • Assuming police respond to the scene, why doesn’t NProv file a claim with the driver’s insurance to recoup the loss?

  • I think they’re mostly (all?) hit & runs. The lights are designed to breakaway, so a car striking one should not be disabled by the impact and the police wouldn’t know about it until someone saw the pole down.

  • How tall are the curbs? I know in my neighborhood, they just keep laying concrete down, so now the sidewalks are an inch and a half higher than the street.

  • Ah yes, brick sidewalks, decorative streetlights, clap three times and Presto! Suburban arterial becomes attractive pedestrian environment!

    They should encourage curbside parking to protect the $4200 poles.

  • I wonder if the town could purchase dye packs to place inside the poles, similar to those used in banks, to tag the hit and run drivers’ cars and offer a bit of deterrence.

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