Greater City Providence

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.

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 continue to be kind of surprised by the lack of potential liability. You think that they would be kind of worried about slip and falls.

  • It is because some businesses understand that the comfort and safety of their customers matters.

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t shoveled yet. The building owner has sent someone out. I do keep a 50lb bag of rock salt handy though for when things inevitably get icy.

  • I’ve been doing an annual rant on this too, have tried to call for a “summit” of snow issue stakeholders (RIDOT, DPW, RIPTA, police, business assiciations, advocacy groups…) to no avail. In North Providence here, it is not just a failure to shovel, a bigger and longer lasting problem is businesses that shovel snow from their parking lots onto the public sidewalks. And there is no effort to keep bus shelters clear, RIPTA passengers have to wait in the street.

    All this is part of a culturally dominant paradigm that says only driving and flying is important. In the media, during an after a snowstorm, they tell us about road conditions and airport delays, almost never mentioning RIPTA or intercity bus setvice, sidewalk conditions, commuter rail or Amtrak.

  • I am thisclose to starting a blog where people can post pictures of unshoveled sidewalks and the addresses that accompany them. In my mind, the public shame would jolt people into action, but since the public shame of the sidewalk in front of your house obviously being unshoveled doesn’t do much , I doubt this would either.

    My additional beef is with people who do shovel their sidewalks, but then pile the snow up on the curb right where people would climb onto that sidewalk. I guess I just want too much 🙂

  • We have 1 house on our street that has a wide parking lot/driveway thing. They plow it out to the side, blocking the sidewalk with a huge pile of snow. I have reported this house, as well as other houses on my street in the link Jef posted on another thread. Nothing was done about it. I’m tempted to walk my street and write down the addresses of houses with unshoveled sidewalks and report them all. Last year, I reported a few of the same houses multiple times and nothing was still done about it. Maybe I should print out the ordinance with a note explaining that they’re in violation of it and stick it in their door.

  • It’s a tough situation when the city itself is one of the worst offenders. Case in point, Camp Street is nicely shoveled all the way from Grand View to Cypress thanks to individual property owners. However, once you get to the park on the corner of Cypress and Camp, including the steep hill on Cypress (all city property), nothing is shoveled and everyone’s walking in the street.

  • Yup, same thing on Atwells at Garibaldi Park. I’m not usually one to pile on about Union employees, but if the DID Yellow Jackets even think about picking up a candy wrapper in Burnside Park, then there is a grievance faster than you can imagine. Meanwhile there are scores of hours of Union overtime piled up on sidewalks that fall under the jurisdiction of the City. Then all of a sudden it is sit in your truck time at the Union.

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