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News & Notes

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Image from Cyclehoop

→ Fast Company: These Recycled Plastic Dividers Can Create A Bike Lane In A Second

Painted bike lanes are safer for cyclists than riding in the middle of the road, but bike lanes that are separated with a curb are even better. For example, one study found that cyclists in separated lanes had 80% fewer accidents than those in regular bike lanes. But it’s often tricky to convince city governments to take the extra, more concrete step of separation. One product from a U.K. design firm aims to help.

The “Armadillo” is a low-slung recycled plastic bump that can be installed along the edge of a bike lane. Set at an angle, the bumps allow enough space for bikes to ride back out into the street if they need to, something that isn’t as easy with a full concrete curb. But it still keeps cars out.


→ Mashable: London to Test ‘Smart’ Crosswalks

The system, called Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique (SCOOT) uses cameras to figure out how many people are waiting to cross the street and adjusts traffic signals accordingly. So if there is a large crowd waiting, for example, the signal to walk will last longer, giving the crowd more time to cross the street.

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News & Notes

→ Streetsblog: Obama to Propose Four-Year Transpo Bill Funded By “Business Tax Reform”

obama-official-portrait-vertA fact sheet from the administration indicates the proposal would increase dedicated funding for transit more than funding for highways.

The proposal would represent a 38 percent spending increase over the current $109 billion, 2-year law, known as MAP-21, and is the most concrete long-term transportation bill proposed by the Obama administration, which has never put forward a funding stream until now.

See also: → Whitehouse.gov: FACT SHEET: President Obama Lays Out Vision for 21st Century Transportation Infrastructure


→ The New York Times: When Pedestrians Get Mixed Signals

But the indication to walk never came. I was contemplating a four-lane dash when a man appeared who told me I had to press the “Walk” button. I did, and at the next signal change for cars, my signal appeared as well.

At first, I applauded this municipal beneficence, which I encountered during a visit while researching my book. Los Angeles is looking after its pedestrians! In New York City, by contrast, the once-functioning “Walk” buttons were left to go dormant, then largely removed. But in my subsequent visits to Los Angeles, my feelings have shifted.

The reason the buttons were rendered obsolete in New York is that there was no need for them. There were always pedestrians waiting to cross. In Los Angeles, the working button came to seem a rare and feeble plea: May I please cross the street?

In Providence I’m all the time seeing people push the wrong walk button. People press the one closest to them, but that is not the button for the street they are hoping to cross.

But the article is really about the misguided crack-down on “jaywalking” in some cities.

If tough love will not make pedestrians safer, what will? The answer is: better walking infrastructure, slower car speeds and more pedestrians. But it’s easier to write off the problem as one of jaywalkers.

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Storm updates from the City – No school, parking ban, no trash collection Friday

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Providence parking ban ends at noon (Jan. 3rd).
TRASH REMOVAL
Garbage and recycling collection will not take place today, Friday, January 3, 2014. If your regular trash pickup day is Thursday, your trash will be picked up tomorrow, Saturday, January 4, 2014. If your regular trash pickup day is Friday, your trash will be picked up on Monday, January 6, 2014.

Trash pickup will be delayed by one day next week:

  • Monday pickup will be Tuesday
  • Tuesday pickup will be Wednesday
  • Wednesday pickup will be Thursday
  • Thursday pickup will be Friday
  • Friday pickup will be Saturday

The regular trash pickup schedule will resume on Monday, January 13, 2014.

From the City:


Providence Public Schools Closed Tomorrow, Jan. 3 – Parking Ban Begins at Midnight

Residents urged to exercise caution during frigid conditions

PROVIDENCE, RI – In preparation for a winter snow storm forecast to bring frigid temperatures and leave up to eight inches of snow in Providence, Providence Public Schools will be closed tomorrow, January 3, 2013.

Mayor Angel Taveras has declared a citywide parking ban beginning at midnight tonight. The parking ban will remain in effect until further notice.

Snowfall is expected to peak in intensity during the evening hours tonight and will continue through tomorrow morning. The storm will be accompanied by frigid temperatures and wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour that will greatly reduce visibility and make extended outdoor exposure dangerous.

The Department of Public Works has prepared all equipment and personnel to respond to the storm. The City’s Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated with Providence Emergency Management staff.

Residents can stay up to date on the latest storm developments from the City by using the filter #PVDsnow on Twitter and following the accounts of Mayor Taveras and PEMA.

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Providence Parking Ban tonight, clear your sidewalks

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From the City of Providence:


Providence Declares Citywide Parking Ban Beginning at 9PM

Clearing major roads, emergency routes is first priority; side streets are not plowed immediately during a snow event

PROVIDENCE, RI – In preparation for a snowstorm that is forecast to begin late this afternoon and peak in intensity this evening, Mayor Angel Taveras has declared a citywide parking ban beginning at 9PM tonight, Saturday, December 14. The parking ban will remain in effect until further notice.

Snowfall is forecasted to begin later this afternoon, peaking in intensity during the evening hours with 3-6 inches of snow before turning to sleet and rain early tomorrow morning.

Residents with overnight parking passes and all residents are advised that they cannot park on the street during the duration of the citywide parking ban. All vehicles parked on the street in violation of the citywide parking ban will be ticketed and towed to ensure that roadways can be plowed.

The Department of Public Works has prepared all equipment and personnel to respond to the storm.

Residents can stay up to date on the latest storm developments from the City by following the Twitter accounts of Mayor Taveras and PEMA or by monitoring the Facebook account of Mayor Taveras.

The City’s snow hotline will not be open during this storm.

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Plowing done wrong

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East Avenue near the Pawtucket/Providence line.

I’m seeing a lot of bellyaching on social media about streets not being plowed yet. While, my street is showing signs of blacktop, I feel others pain, but. We got walloped with feet of snow drifting to amazing proportions. There are hundreds of thousands, probably millions of tons of snow that need to be removed from hundreds of miles of roads. This is not something that just happens in a day or two, or more.

What does annoy me, is snow removal done wrong. The Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (of which I am a member) has discussed with Providence EMA the problem of plows piling snow at the corners of blocks, which then makes it impossible for abutters to comply with snow removal regulations. And while like I said, we’re dealing with a monumental amount of snow, that really has few places to go, I’m seeing a lot of signs around the few parts of the city that I’ve been able to reach this weekend, signs that this continues to happen.

While the photo above is from Pawtucket, not Providence, it illustrates the problem well. My friend who took the photo asked the workers who were dumping the snow if the abutter here would receive a fine and was told: ‘if they talked to city hall they wouldn’t get a fine.’

Well, that is nice for the pocketbook of the abutter (though, ‘talk to City Hall,’ is a rather vague directive), it sucks for all the people who now have to walk in East Avenue because the sidewalk will be closed for weeks.

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Snowblogging III: Whoa!

Internet is down here at Greater City Providence. Lucky for us we still have power and heat. So, I’m posting from my phone, lets see how that goes.

I took an epic amount of photos (and a few videos) and am going to split them up a bit. Here goes day after post number one.

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Whoops! Published that too quick. Wait, I’m adding more!

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – January 23, 2013

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
January 23, 2013, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor
Note: Meeting is Wednesday instead of Monday due to the Martin Luther King Day holiday. Also, meetings start at 4:30pm now rather than 4 o’clock.
  1. 4:30 – Nate Urso, Providence Department of Public Works: Crosswalks, Street Repaving, Policy, and Safety (Nate will also give a brief update on the status of the Road Bond repaving in general)
  2. 4:55 – Dave Everett: Bike Plan Update and BPAC input on potential road bond bicycle improvements (Melrose, Prairie, Potters, Olney) and review of typical sections. Also plans for draft report and stakeholder meeting in Feb.
  3. 5:05 – Public comment.
  4. 5:20 – Discussion/letter re DOT bikeway plans (master list for bike plan)
  5. 5:25 – Jef Nickerson: S. Main St. merchant issues re pedestrian access/movement relative to I-Way parcels
  6. 5:30 – Jenn Steinfeld/Jef Nickerson: BPAC communications update/protocol for receiving input
  7. 5:40 – Bridge detours update
  8. 5:45 – Zip Car spaces and potential bike lane conflicts
  9. 5:55 – Rescheduling BPAC meetings now scheduled for May 20, August 19, November 18, December 16
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Guest Post: Snow removal, “not my job.”

A reader submits photos and commentary on common snow removal issues along North Main. Just a little extra effort would save hundreds of people from huge inconvenience and safety concerns.

Here are some snowy sidewalk pics that illustrate the not-my-job mindset. I am glad the long sidewalk along North Burial Ground on North Main Street has been getting plowed lately, although when the snow is deep enough to bog down their little tractor, they simply fuggedaboutit. But how hard would it be to drive that little tractor a few yards farther along and clear the traffic island at Cemetary Street?

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On a side note, this intersection is a fine example of inappropriate high-speed design. Oh yeah, there is a stop sign, but most drivers scoot right on through and merge into N. Main at full speed, with heads turned left to check approaching traffic as if they were at a highway on-ramp instead of a crosswalk. Also, note how the sidewalk on the traffic island is where the plow driver who clears the lawyer’s lot dumps snow.

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I guess it a dead-serious matter of turf and good fences between Parks Dept and Public Works, (or RIDOT? Or the Feds? N Main is US 1, you know) that keeps the Parks Dept. tractor from plowing all the way to Branch Ave. It might take 90 seconds and cause huge paperwork and budget issues.

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Snowy sidewalks

Yes, yes, the law says you have 8 hours until after the first light after it stops snowing to clear your sidewalk, blah, blah, blah… But, there is the law, and then there is sensibility and being a good neighbor.

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Of course, I had no doubt, even though they are not open, and not required to do so, per usual, Angelo’s sidewalk is clear. It always is, it is like the sunrise, you know it will happen. This is an example of being a good neighbor and a good business person. This simple act creates amazing goodwill from me for Angelo’s.

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Up the block, The Old Canteen has been really good with the few snowfalls we’ve had this winter. That plow pulling out of the lot, the driver of that plow is the one who shoveled the sidewalk, I watched him finish up, put his shovel in his truck, and leave. Old Canteen obviously has an arrangement for both their parking lot and their sidewalks to be clear; satisfying the needs of their customers in cars and on foot obviously makes good business sense.

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Privatizing Garibaldi Park did not result in the sidewalk being cleared

garibaldi-snow

Unfortunately, privatizing Garibaldi Park did not translate into the adjacent sidewalk being cleared of snow. As when the City was responsible for its maintenance, I had to walk in the street this morning.

Also, per usual, Lamar continues to fail to clear the snow from the bus stop here (and elsewhere I’m sure).


Update: Better late than never, as of Wednesday morning, the sidewalk is clear.

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Hey New England: It is gonna snow again

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A Yellow Jacket clearing snow Downcity. January 21, 2012.

Have you lived in New England for more than a year or so? Remember how last year it snowed, and the year before that it snowed, and for 10,000 years before that it snowed? Well, get ready, all the weather people seem to agree, it is going to snow again Saturday.

So, you might want to remember how to deal with it. The City luckily, has you covered.


When snow season arrives, City crews, residents and businesses need to work together to manage challenging winter weather conditions.

The Providence Public Works Department is responsible for clearing snow and ice on more than 421 miles of City-maintained roads in the City of Providence.

City of Providence Snow Facts

  • Over 130 pieces of equipment are available for every storm, including plows, tractors, snow blowers, graders, loaders and pickup trucks.
  • Materials and equipment are housed at one central location in Providence.
  • Public Works replenishes supplies after every storm.

How We Plow

  1. The first priority for city crews during and immediately after a snowfall is to clear priority roads, including major arterial streets, bus routes, bus stops, and roads that access fire stations and hospitals.
  2. The second priority is to clear collector streets and routes leading to schools.
  3. Once conditions have been stabilized on first- and second-priority routes, crews will begin to clear local streets. Local streets are not plowed immediately during a snow event. In the event of continual snowfall, it may take longer than usual for plows to reach local streets as first- and second-priority streets will require additional attention.
Also, don’t forget to share you snow photos in our Flickr Group, we might share them here on the site.

What are your legal requirements as a citizen of Providence when it comes to snow removal?

Sec. 23-13. – Removal of snow — Required.

All owners, occupants or persons, having care of any building or lot bordering upon any street, highway or public place within the city, shall, within the first eight (8) hours of daylight after the end of any snowfall, or the fall or deposit of snow on the sidewalk of said building or lot from any cause whatsoever:

  1. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from a path not less than three (3) feet in width of the entire border in or on said street, highway, or public place;
  2. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from around any fire hydrant on the sidewalk in front of said building or lot;
  3. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from the opening of any catch basin in the sidewalk of said building or lot;
  4. Remove or cause to be removed all snow from pedestrian-access ramps cut into street curbs bordering said building or lot;

Any person found guilty of violating this section shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00). The enforcement of the above shall be done by the city police department and/or an inspector or supervisor of the city public works department. Failure to pay the fine within thirty (30) days will result in the creation of a special lien against the said lot(s), which lien shall be removed only upon payment of the fine plus an administrative penalty of one hundred dollars ($100.00). The imposition of such fine and other charges may be appealed to municipal court within ten (10) days of the issuance of a written citation.

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UCAP School expansion

The expansion of the UCAP School on Broadway is on the City Plan Commission Agenda for this afternoon. I requested a copy of the Staff Report and it looks like a pretty good project.

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Service Road facade. Click image to enlarge.

Of course, the devil as always is in the details, with this type of rendering it is difficult to tell what the materials are. However, at first look it is nice, doesn’t make one recoil in horror. There’s a short list of nitpicks as always: A rather blank wall along the Service Road. I won’t go on about saving the Engle Tire Building, but it is always annoying to not have a net gain on the vacant lot scoreboard. I’d prefer to see taller buildings along the Service Road, but there is still plenty of developable space.

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Regarding the weed ordinance and enforcement

WPRI reports on City Councilman Michael Correia’s proposal to fine homeowners for unruly weeds on their property. The ordinance would impose a $25 fine per day on homeowners who have weeds or grass on their property exceeding 8 inches in height.

While there is a neighborhood beautification component to the proposal, as the WPRI video above shows, it is also a safety concern. As I’m sure you’re all aware, we have another ordinance which addresses a safety concern, snow shoveling.

WPRI reports: “The Department of Public Works would be in charge of enforcing the ordinance.” Great, DPW is also responsible for enforcing snow removal. How is that working out? The City admitted this to the Providence Journal way back in 2010 regarding snow removal:

Peter T. Gaynor, city director of emergency management, acknowledged, however, that the DPW is not yet ready to discharge its new duty. For the time being, he said, it’s still up to the police.

Before we pass another toothless ordinance, let us figure out who is going to enforce it and ensure they have the resources to do so.

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City Council moves to politicize proposed roads bond

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Dean Street re-construction in 2009. The City of Providence proposes a $40b bond to finance repairs to 62 miles of roads and sidewalks in the City.

As reported by Ian Donnis on RINPR, the City Council is meeting tonight to put a provision in the proposed roads bond bill that would give them control over what streets and sidewalks get repaired in their Wards:

RINPR quotes Councilman Terry Hassett:

That was one of the concerns among the council members — making sure that anything that is distributed through a bond for infrastructure that the council member has a direct and specific role in terms of what streets would get done, what sidewalks, and where the emphasis should be. That was the concern.

Dan McGowan of GoLocalProv Tweets the move could result in a Mayoral veto:


Why? Because there has already been a systematic review of roadways in the city that need attention and 62 miles of roadways have been identified as the ones which will be worked on should this bond pass (I hope to see that list before I’m asked to vote on the bond). The Council argues that they know best what their Wards need. What they know best is which streets getting paved get them the most votes towards reelection.

There’s also the simple matter that the bond money should not be equally dispersed among the 15 Councilors. There are Wards that are in more need than others based on trucking, bus routes, sheer road miles, and other factors that mean they should get more or less money than other Wards.

The City has created a formula to rate roads and determine which need working on, there is no reason the Councilors need any more say over that. If they don’t agree with the formula, then address that, don’t say you get to pick and choose what needs doing under some, “trust me, I know what’s best for my Ward,” song and dance.

See also: RINPR: Providence City Hall slams council faction’s plan for allocating road repair money

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Arcade work!

ArcadeThe good news, it appears work is commencing at the Arcade. The bad news, said work is closing the sidewalk.

Of course this sidewalk closure comes just as we have hopes the sidewalk in front of the neighboring 35 Weybosset façade will finally be able to re-open. Though that project was stalled out for a bit, it seems there is renewed work happening on that site to building their parking lot (sigh) and move the façade bracing allowing the sidewalk to open.

Although it is of course great to finally see progress at the Arcade, it would be greaterer if the city had policies that accommodated pedestrians during such construction projects. You can bet your ass that auto traffic wouldn’t have been allowed to be restricted for the duration of this project. It would be simple to create a diversion for pedestrians (you know, like the guy with the backpack in the photo is doing all by himself).

Reader submitted photo of the Weybosset side of the Arcade last Friday.

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – January 25, 2012

A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at the offices of Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, Rhode Island, on WEDNESDAY, January 25, 2012, beginning at 2:00 p.m., for the following purposes:

Public Session

1. To approve the Public Session and Executive Session minutes of the meeting held on January 9, 2012.

2. For discussion regarding snow removal on sidewalks and other interim maintenance issues.

3. For consideration of the vision and mission statement of the District.

4. For the making of findings related to, and consideration of, the engagement of an engineering firm and ratification of the selection committee’s actions and recommendations.

Executive Session

5. To consider and act upon such matters, indicated in agenda item 4, as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to the Open Meeting Law, specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (7) (investment of public funds) of Rhode Island General Laws Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law)



Emphasis mine

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The Rant

Angelo's

Angelo’s on Atwells, a business that obviously wants customers.

I’ve been mini-ranting here and there in posts and comments, but allow me to just devote one post to this, and as we do every year, let’s talk it out.

There’s something that I really don’t understand about clearing sidewalks. I can see that some residents are selfish, shovel a path to their car and everyone else be damned. I don’t like it but I understand that some people have no civic pride or common decency, and since their is no action from the City, I understand that those people simply don’t shovel and seemingly don’t care.

What I don’t understand is businesses. What goes on in your brain when you go to your business, unlock your door, turn on the lights, and wait behind your cash register for customers, but don’t shovel? Even if 100% of your customers arrive by car (which does not happen anywhere in Providence), those people still need to get from their cars to your cash register.

Yes, civic pride and common decency may be gone, but in a massive recession simple customer service is out the window too? That photo at the top, that is Angelo’s on Atwells Avenue. That was yesterday morning, they weren’t even open yet, but their sidewalk was clear. They have civic pride obviously, but they also know, even if they are not open, their customers and potential customers are walking by, so they clear their sidewalks.

There’s a couple other businesses on the Hill that are really good at shoveling, Chef Ho’s is notable for their snow removal as well. And both Chef Ho’s and Angelo’s keep this up all year. While the rest of Federal Hill is a trash pit, Angelo’s sidewalks are always swept and clear of debris, they care for the street trees adjacent to their property, they hang lights during the holidays, plant flowers, they hose off puke…

I simply cannot wrap my brain around why more businesses don’t have Angelo’s attitude.

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