Tag Archives | Sidewalks

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


The Rant


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.


Snowblogging: Twice in one week!

I am going to try to not sidewalk rant here. It is still snowing, so by right, no one is required to have their sidewalks clear, but expect a little ranting to sneak in, I can’t help myself!

I was out between noon and 1pm and did a big loop through Downcity to Waterplace and back.

Snow - January 21, 2012

Right off the bat, a little rant, I told you I can’t help myself. Well not so much a rant as a surprise; the sidewalks at Dominica Manor have not been touched today. They do not need to be per regulations, but they are usually out clearing snow all day on a day like this. Budget problems?

I didn’t take a photo, but as always, Angelo’s was clear. Someone was out shoveling and salting as I walked by.

Again, dumbfounded here, my ranting is bearing fruit. Someone (I assume the City though it is a State bridge) dumped a metric ton of salt on the Atwells Avenue Bridge sidewalks.

Snow - January 21, 2012

Of course then the plows pushed snow up on top of it. The sidewalk on the other side faired better and was actually clear, even as I walked back and the snow was getting heavier.

Snow - January 21, 2012

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Rain on top of snow equals gross

Atwells Avenue bridge over Route 95

At midnight last night I almost went out to do some honest to goodness snowblogging, it was really coming down. But come morning, it had changed to rain and most of the snow was gone. The amount of snow we got before the changeover, and the amount of rain that fell on top of it, and the temperature still hovering in the mid 30s meant that the sidewalk were a mess.

Worst kind of weather conditions for sidewalks, a thin layer of slush frozen, often indistinguishable from what is simply wet makes for a slow shuffle with arms out to help stop from falling. When I got to the Atwells Bridge, I moved into the street.

Some building owners were out salting, Dominica Manor as usual was putting a lot of salt down on their sidewalks. The Hilton, again as usual. The Public Library was just getting started on salting as I shuffled by. The newest member of the neighborhood, 38 Studios also had salt down on their sidewalks at One Empire and also salted the sidewalks past the pocket park to the Westminster Walk. I’m liking 38 Studios now!

The forecast I saw this morning had some snow showers on it for Thursday night, Friday, and next Monday, maybe we’ll finally get some honest to goodness real New England snow!


News & Notes

Portland Aerial Tram car

Portland Aerial Tram in station. Photo (cc) kevincrumbs.

News & Notes Looking to the skies for answers: a second look at gondola transit [The Toronto Star]

[Toronto] Mayor Rob Ford seems to favour tunneling transit underground in Toronto. But a growing number of international cities, including some in Canada, are casting their eyes to the sky at an unconventional mode that’s cheaper, cleaner and quicker to build than subways and light rail.

In fringe suburbs, has economics trumped the appeal of new? [Greater Greater Washington]

The recession and the burst of the housing bubble have stopped development in many fringe suburbs. With many urban neighborhoods on the rise, some suggest that fringe suburbs are on the decline. Has simple economics surpassed the appeal of “new” in the hinterlands?

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News & Notes


Photo from Boxpark’s Facebook Page.

News & Notes Shipping Containers & Shopping – London’s ‘Retail Revolution’ Finally Opens [This Big City]

London’s first pop-up shopping mall has finally opened, after originally being slated for a Summer launch. Located in east London, at the intersection of Bethnal Green Road and Shoreditch High Street, ‘Boxpark‘ is made entirely from reused shipping containers and has been called a ‘retail revolution’ by its owners. I paid a visit last week to see if it lives up to this ambitious statement.

Route 195 land?

The wisdom of crowds – The strange but extremely valuable science of how pedestrians behave [The Economist]

Messrs Helbing and Moussaid are at the cutting edge of a youngish field: understanding and modelling how pedestrians behave. Its purpose is not mere curiosity. Understanding pedestrian flows makes crowd events safer: knowing about the propensity of different nationalities to step in different directions could, for instance, matter to organisers of an event such as a football World Cup, where fans from various countries mingle. The odds of collisions go up if they do not share a reflex to move to one side. In a packed crowd, that could slow down lots of people.

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Dislike: Walking in the street

Photo by Andy Morris

Yes, everytime I run into someone downtown they say, “are you going to write about the sidewalks on Washington Street?”

Truth is, I’m totally avoiding Washington Street if I can help it. A bunch of things are conspiring to result in there often being no sidewalk on either side of Washington Street.

One thing is good, we like it, new sidewalks are being installed, yay! However, when work is being done on a sidewalk, there needs to be a place for people to go, either make pedestrians cross if there is no room, or block off a secion of the road.

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News & Notes

Public Seating Beyond Parks and Playgrounds [Urban Design Week]

We’ve all been there: exhausted, hot, annoyed, and just looking for a seat! With over eight million people calling New York City home, finding a place to sit outside of parks and playgrounds can be a bigger challenge than one might imagine. Megan in Clinton Hill wishes there were places to sit in public space besides in parks: free, public resting spots on every block for a coffee, lunch, and conversation. Ultimately, she wants the city to be “more free and open to all! Not limited to only people who eat at outdoor cafes, etc.”

More and more this is how I feel about Downcity. You can sit at Grant’s Lot, and you can sit at the tables at Burnside Park, that’s about it.

The 1950s Called, and They Want Their Transportation Bill Back [AltTransport]

What costs $230 billion and shortchanges pedestrian and bicycle safety and already cash-strapped urban transit systems? If you guessed the new transportation reauthorization proposal from the GOP-led House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, you’d be right.

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Sidewalk over street in Providence too

Remember a couple weeks back when I posted this photo from a Streetsblog story of a sidewalk crossing a street in Copenhagen?

Copenhagen sidewalk
Photo from Streetsblog

This is what I said I liked about it:

This Copenhagen sidewalk completely flips the script on the relationship between cars and pedestrians at intersections. Rather than there being a curb, the sidewalk ending, and pedestrians moved into the street via a crosswalk; the sidewalk continues across the road and it is the car that enters the pedestrians domain in order to move through the intersection. Why are we not making all minor side streets have this relation to the main?

Well, duh, we have at least one of these in Providence, on Westminster Street at Orange Street:

Sidewalk on Westminster Street continues right across Orange Street.

It is not quite as seemlessly sidewalk as the Copenhagen example, but observing motorists navigating it, it works the same way. Motorist get a cue that they are moving off the street and change the way they move, slowing to look for pedestrians and using more caution than if the sidewalk ended and there was only paint on the roadway for pedestrians. The fact that the sidewalk is at a higher level than the street also means that cars must slow to mount it. Meaning it acts as a sort of speed bump.

This should be firmly planted in the city’s road design bag of tricks. Imagine if all the alleys on Atwells worked this way for example; cars had to slow to cross the sidewalk rather than the other way around.


PPAC Square

PPAC Square

Click Image to enlarge

Today the Mayor’s Office held a press conference announcing the designation of the intersection of Weybosset and Mathewson Streets as “PPAC Square.” This is part of the larger Downtown Circulator Project.

Speakers included the Mayor, Director of Planning and Development Thom Deller, Joe Walsh the Chairman of the PPAC Board, and Laurie White of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

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News & Notes

Wow! Study says DC Streetcar could add $10-15 billion in value [New Urban Network]

The Washington, DC, streetcar certainly looks like a good deal. The 37-mile system, the first corridor of which is under construction and expected to be completed by 2012, will increase the value of existing properties by $5-7 billion, according to the study by Goody Clancy & Associates of Boston.

Boston’s success depends on T [The Boston Globe]

CITIES HAVE to grow, and the place for them to grow is on top of mass transit. A few decades ago, that was an academic argument. Today, it’s standard operating procedure. It’s just how neighborhoods get built.

Of course, the great assumption underpinning transit-oriented growth is that the transit will be there – to divorce construction from gridlock, to allow people to move around an ever-crowding urban environment, and to put scarce, expensive land into productive use, instead of reserving it for parking. Without mass transit, there is no urban growth.

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Obviously, someone is trying to make me angry

As I was walking home I was pretty amazed that some sidewalks were actually dry, amazing! I ran into some problems in the LaSalle Square area and at the Atwells Bridge, where there was no way to get from the sidewalk into the street to cross the street.

Those challenges were mostly forgotten as I was quickly making my way all the way across Federal Hill on Atwells sidewalks clear of snow. Then I came upon this mess.

Obviously, this was shoveled, and for the first time this season, amazing. Until some snowplow came along and pushed all the snow back into the area that had been cleared.

While the Mayor admonishes us not to shovel snow from sidewalks into the street…

Pls remember to clear your sidewalks. I know there is a lot of snow, but make every effort to not put snow you remove back into the roadway.less than a minute ago via web

…we have snowplows all over the city pushing snow back onto the sidewalks. If there were a 3 foot pile of snow across the Atwells roadway, how many people do you think would be fired? Snow from the road pushed onto the sidewalk, not such a big deal it would seem.


Snowblogging: Miracle Edition

Snow - January 27, 2011

THAT my friends is a shoveled sidewalk on the Atwells Avenue Bridge over Route 95. Yes, it is true.

But wait, don’t think I’m gonna be all sunshine and moonbeams. A for effort to get this thing cleared so soon after last night’s snowicane, but I have complaints.

Every winter, at some point this sidewalk does get cleared. But this is never cleared:

Snow - January 27, 2011

The traffic island on the Downcity side. If I walk all the way over the bridge, the crosswalk drops me on this traffic island, which now has about 3 feet of snow on it. Even on the miraculous day when the bridge sidewalk is cleared, this never is, so it is into the street with me.

But there’s some equal opportunity non-snow clearing at work this morning:

Snow - January 27, 2011

The right turn turbo lane from Atwells to the 95 ramp is not touched at all, which was surprising to see. Guess what, the traffic works just fine with out it. Drivers pull up to the light, turn on their directional, and make a right. I say let’s just get rid of that stupid turbo lane, I say we ban all turbo lanes.

Let’s take a look at the rest of my commute.

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