Greater City Providence

Blind pedestrian forced to walk in the road

walkinpvd-iconSeeClickFix is a website where citizens can report issues to government, it never really took off in Providence (I’d recommend people report issues to the City’s own ProvConnex site and app) but occasionally people do use it in Providence.

I get alerts sent to me for reports in certain areas, this morning this was reported Downtown:

I am legally blind and I walk this same street five days a week. I walk from the #60 bus stop at Kennedy plaza to the Providence Amtrak via Exchange street. So far, there is a stretch of sidewalk along this street that has not been shoveled AT ALL. As a legally blind person, I am afraid to walk in the streets, but it’s the only “safe” route at the moment. PLEASE get someone to do something about this. If you need more details, I’m specifically talking about the sidewalk area that has the open parking lot area with a toll booth in it…that sidewalk is extremely dangerous. That parking lot is on Exchange Street, before you get to the four-way intersection by the Moshassuck River.

The sidewalks are a travesty no doubt, this is the result of abutters being responsible for snow removal on sidewalks and the City doing zero enforcement on that.

The fact that a blind person cannot walk from our State’s central bus hub to our State’s central rail hub, a distance of 0.4 miles without being forced to walk in the road is pathetic. It is amateur hour and we should all collectively be ashamed of ourselves. How can we ever expect to compete with attracting businesses and workers when we have blind people walking in the road?

Maybe if we had the City responsible rather than property owners… No, here’s a City sidewalk along the riverwalk on Canal Street:

And the same sidewalk a week before:

What is wrong with us?

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 was recently walking up North Main Street. Firestone, the US Army National Guard Armory, and the Shell station all failed to clear their sidewalks. At the Shell station, I was forced into the parking lot because of the uncleared sidewalk. There I ran into a PVD police officer who was getting coffee. I pointed out the snowy sidewalks and asked him to issue a ticket for the code violation. He was polite, and spoke to the Shell supervisor, but declined to write a ticket.

  • Yesterday afternoon, on my walk home from work (from Dorrance Street up to Federal Hill) there were numerous instances where I had to walk in the road rather than the sidewalk, because the sidewalks, due to unshoveled snow, were blocks of ice. The Atwells Ave. overpass? Forget it, neither side was shoveled from Tuesday’s storm and was covered in ice and frozen snow. What normally is a 20 minute walk home, took me 30 minutes from trying to navigate snow and ice covered sidewalks to walking cautiously on Atwells Ave. during evening traffic. Just to get down my street to my house was difficult because our street was never plowed and is covered in a thick layer of ice and ruts. A complete nightmare.

  • As a bus rider I can say that there are very few stops on my route (#57 Smith St to Centerdale) where a passenger would not have to wait in the road, getting sprayed by passing cars, at worst it can be dangerous. This was true even at a stop in the shadow of the State House at Gaspe St. Also, the sidewalks are often blocked so to get to a bus stop one must walk in the road. North Providence, where I live, is even worse than Providence.

    I’ve called attention to this problem at Ripta, RIDOT, at Town Hall, to the “complete sreets crowd” all to no avail. But Tuesday Feb 25 there is a hearing on the proposed RIDOT budget, an opportunity to ask for a legislative solution: the proposed budget already mandates, and pays for, specific RIDOT tasks (such as cleaning drains) so it is not unreasonable to ask that clearing bus stops on state roads be added, only fair as the snow they clear from the roads often blocks the stops. Also the legislature itself passed a “complete streets” law requiring accomodating all users when roads are built or reconstructed, this would add “maintained.”

    It won’t solve all sidewalk problems but perhaps bus stop clearing equipment can be used by RIDOT for sidewalks they should be responsible for, such as the Atwells Avenue overpass.

    The hearing on the RIDOT budget is before the House Finance Committee, Room 35 at State House, at the “rise” usually around 4:30pm. Help if you can, or suggest other ways to seek progress.

  • I’m getting annoyed with this whole thing. People were all excited (and the mayor even mentioned the whole snow removal thing) when unshoveled sidewalks were added as a “problem” to report in ProvConnex. But you can report and report and report, and they don’t do anything about it. I’ve reported the same properties several times and nothing has been done about them. If the city doesn’t want to fine residents, the least they can do is send someone to knock on the door (or leave a note on the door) saying “hey, your sidewalk isn’t clear, you have 24 hours to clear it or be fined.” And then send someone back 24 hours later. If it’s not clear, write them up. Even if they don’t check themselves and only check the ones people report, that’d be a start.

  • I’ve even called the city to complain, but still many sidewalks haven’t been cleared once. None of the city-owned stretch of sidewalk on Branch Avenue between North Main Street and Silver Spring Street has been shoveled even once this winter, requiring pedestrians to walk facing traffic on a two-lane highway overpass with no shoulder.

  • I’d like to add a further comment to this –
    Last weekend, as I was coming home from walking my dogs, we were walking down Dean Street towards Atwells Avenue. We were on the block between Broadway and Federal street. I noticed a guy in a wheelchair sitting at the corner right in front of the Mother Mystic shop. As I got closer, I could see he was frustrated. When we got to the corner, that’s when I realized that his wheelchair was stuck in the snow and slush (he could not move the chair at all), because nobody had NEVER bothered to clear the wheelchair access on that corner. It took the two of us (him pushing the wheels and me behind him) to get him free and clear of the slush and snow.

Providence, RI
5:14 am8:11 pm EDT
Feels like: 72°F
Wind: 9mph WSW
Humidity: 85%
Pressure: 29.7"Hg
UV index: 2
77°F / 57°F
68°F / 52°F
72°F / 52°F