Public Service Announcement: Walk Right, er Left!

I noticed that Greater City: Providence had a link to a recent Public Service Announcement from the Mayor’s office regarding removing snow from sidewalks. Here’s an excerpt:

Providence City Ordinance requires that property owners must shovel sidewalks within eight hours after snow stops falling. The fine for failing to shovel the sidewalks ranges from $25 to $500.

Snow-free sidewalks are more than a convenience; they are a matter of public safety. Property owners are urged to shovel sidewalks as soon as possible.

Does this mean that the city will actually enforce the ordinance? Somehow, I don’t think so. Therefore, I have written my own public service announcement directed at the pedestrians of Providence:

It’s winter time in New England, and although you may have suppressed the memory from previous years, winter means snow.  Snow is cold and beautiful, like an ice sculpture, but just like an ice sculpture, it’s difficult to walk or drive through. While there is an army of vehicles dedicated to the task of clearing the snow from our city’s streets, we prefer to use “crowd sourcing” methods to clear the sidewalks for the many citizens who must travel the city by foot.* Fortunately, our city has an ordinance that requires all property owners to clear the snow from their sidewalks in an overly generous time frame (8 hours after the last flake falls). If a property owner fails to clear a sidewalk, they could be fined up to $500! Amazing, isn’t it? Don’t expect it to actually happen, though. The city told the DPW to issue the fines, the DPW wants the police to do it, the police are too busy doing other stuff…. so you know what that means, it’s into the street for you, pedestrian! Here’s an important safety tip: when you are forced to walk in the street because someone failed to shovel their sidewalk, please be sure to walk on the left-hand side of the street, facing traffic. This will allow you to see the cars approaching you and make emergency maneuvers if necessary. You can remember this with a simple mnetronomic device: AWORS BRIML SYCJOW (pronounced AY-wars BRIM-ehl SIC-jow) Obviously, that stands for, Always Walk On the Right Side, and By Right I Mean Left So You Can Jump Out of the Way. Say it with me:


Got it? Seriously, I was shoveling out my walk this morning and saw so many people walking on the wrong side of the street. Although I was slow on the draw, I was just able to catch a picture of this guy:

Let’s take a closer look, ENHANCE SECTOR F-5!

Well, that doesn’t really clear things up, does it? You’ll just have to take my word for it that what is pictured is a middle-aged man walking down the wrong side of a snow-filled, slippery street with heavy traffic, while reading his iPad.

Also, on the left hand side of the un-enhanced photo you can see a driveway full of cars blocking the sidewalk thus making my shoveling job almost completely pointless.

* = FOOTNOTE: Here’s another quote from the Mayor’s PSA:

…it is important that everyone take responsibility for making sure sidewalks are safe and passable. This is especially important to ensure the safety of children who walk to school, and the many pedestrians who regularly walk in Providence. (emphasis mine)

Isn’t everyone a pedestrian at some point?

7 responses to “Public Service Announcement: Walk Right, er Left!

  1. Reminds me of this gem – you ever seen it? I read about it in the RE/Search Pranks book years ago and it comes to mind every time I see bad pedestrian behavior.
    (I was a 2-mile commute walker in Providence until the end of last year, now I rely on RIPTA. Maybe in the spring I’ll take up biking too!)

    • Nice catch, Stephanie! I was kind of referring to that prank in the title of this post. That RE/Search Pranks book was a big inspiration to me 10-12 years ago when I first saw it. Let me know if you decide to take up bike commuting in the spring. 2 miles is a great distance to start with.

  2. I shoveled about a 22″ path in front of my place with an exit to the street only to have it reburied by plows.

    I’m not gonna dig it out. And in fact I want the city to invest in equipment to clear sidewalks. You heard me, they should be doing it. They clear the roads, pedestrians pay tax too, clear the damned sidewalks.

    • Yeah, it’s very dispiriting to work on one’s sidewalk for hours only to have it ruined by a plow in seconds. Since we can’t get the city to clear the sidewalks on their own property, I don’t see private property sidewalk clearing on the horizon. In an ideal world, the city would take responsibility for clearing all public ways… but this ain’t Copenhagen.

  3. Pingback: Front Page News: Snow Gets In The Way of Driving | Car-Free in PVD

  4. Pingback: Worst. Intersection. Ever. (gets worsterer) | Car-Free in PVD

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