Greater City Providence

Observations from my walk home

It is now 24-hours post blizzard, here are the things I encountered/was thinking about on my walk home.

First the good:

The DID Yellow Jackets did a great job per usual clearing snow and ensuring the sidewalks are clear into the crosswalk (the photo above is actually from last night). Along Snow Street, where the parking lots cleared their snow onto the sidewalk (sigh) the Yellow Jackets hacked away at the mountain of snow on the sidewalk to clear a small area where pedestrians could get out of the street (I hope they assess a fee onto the parking lot owners for that).

The bad:

When there are 4 foot snow banks aside an 8 inch wide trench that serves as the sidewalk, it is not helpful for you to park your car in the crosswalk infront of the 8 inch trench to make a phone call. Hang up and move. In fact, it is never helpful to park your car in a crosswalk to make a phone call.

If you are the city, clearing a foot wide path on the Atwells bridge that is then mostly covered by subsequent plowing operations is not good if the law requires a 3 foot wide path for everyone else.

I’m going to assume that a cop turned on his lights and sirens to pull out of the alley behind the old Blue Cross Blue Shield building to cross the three travel lanes on Sabin Street to deliver a coffee to another officer at the Dunkin Donuts Center because he needed to make that delivery quick so he could get back to writing tickets for unshoveled sidewalks. As of this writing, I also still assume that I am getting a pony for Christmas.

When people park their cars, they get out of their cars and become pedestrians. If you own a parking lot, your customers are part-time pedestrians, you need to clear the snow from the sidewalks too, not dump all the snow from your parking lot on them.

I’m wondering where in the Rhode Island Driver’s Manual [.pdf] it says that when there is snow on the ground, you should drive like a complete asshole. Seriously, why was there complete gridlock at Emmett Square and at Atwells and both Service Roads among other areas. Guess what people, when there is snow on the ground, you still have to stop at red lights and you still cannot block the box in intersections. And if you are in the middle of the box and I’m trying to weave in amonsgt you and the other drivers so I can get across the street, when I have the light, HANG UP YOUR CELL PHONE AND DON’T RUN ME OVER. The no cell phones while driving law applies when you are sitting in traffic (that you are responsible for creating and perpetuating), sorry.

If you own a building in which the retail space is vacant, you still are responsible for clearing the snow on the sidewalks. If you own a restaurant that is closed this week, you still have to ensure the sidewalks are cleared. If you own a restaurant on Federal Hill, and you only clear the sidewalk from your front door to the street, so people who arrrive by car and park by valet can get in, and leave the rest of your frontage piled with snow, you are a douche.

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.


  • Things are pretty bad on the East Side, too. The bus shelters on Hope are not shoveled out – nor are any of the bus stops that aren’t shelters – so it’s almost impossible to wait for a bus safely. From the YMCA on the corner of Doyle all the way down to Olney it’s one unwalkable mess. Clarks has only shoveled from their parking lot to the door and left the vast sidewalk along their parking lot untouched. The Y hasn’t shoveled along Hope – just the Doyle-facing side, and their RIPTA shelter is atrocious.

    On the plus side, the sidewalk in front of Hope High was cleared some time before yesterday morning, but early yesterday the drifting snow had covered the sidewalk along the tennis courts with knee deep snow. This morning, though, they’d cleared it again! Yay!

    As a side note, I’m always surprised by how clean the sidewalk is along North Main Street by the cemetery. I haven’t checked it in the aftermath of this storm, but after every single one of last year’s storms, that was the best place to walk.

  • The cemetery I assume has a grounds crew for it directly, so they handle the snow. Other smaller parks and cemeteries have to wait for the Parks Department to dispatch someone to them.

    On the way into work this morning, I saw Yellow Jackets out hard at work again.

  • You posted a link to the site where we can report violations to the snow removal ordinance. I think I might walk up and down my street writing down addresses of houses that are in violation. I know of at least one that has a parking lot and plows it onto the sidewalks. While I don’t want to get my neighbors in trouble, most of the problem houses would be landlords getting in trouble.

    Also, I’m pretty sure our no cell phone while driving law only applies to texting. I don’t think it applies to talking on the phone.

Providence, RI
Partly Cloudy
5:29 am8:14 pm EDT
Feels like: 88°F
Wind: 7mph W
Humidity: 43%
Pressure: 29.96"Hg
UV index: 6
84°F / 70°F
81°F / 68°F
75°F / 68°F