Reader Mark S. recently brought to my attention a sidewalk issue playing out in the Old Port. He sent in the picture to the left of the sidewalk in front of the Salt Exchange restaurant, at 245 Commercial Street. As you can see, sidewalk seating has taken up more than half of the sidewalk, and left a couple of feet for people to pass through and dodge parking meters. In addition to creating a challenging environment for pedestrians, it is likely also against some sort of city regulation.
The seating will likely be gone soon, as the weather gets colder, but it was still set up this past weekend and I agreed that it was not a very good use of the sidewalk. This blog is not a place to complain about things or to be a whistle blower, but a place to bring these sorts of things to people attention, at which point people can form their own opinions and act accordingly. That being said, if I anyone can find any ordinances relating to this type of sidewalk use on the city website I would be impressed! (here is the city code site)
Does sidewalk seating work in some areas? Certainly. The picture to the left is from in front of Local 188 on Congress Street. This isn't a super-busy little stretch of sidewalk, though it's certainly not a dead zone, but the restaurant leaves enough unobstructed sidewalk to not cause any hassles for pedestrians. The restaurants in Monument Square with outside seating have plenty of room to spread out, also. The Empire Dine & Dance, on a pretty busy stretch of Congress Street at the corner with Forest Avenue has sidewalk seating installed, and it usually works fine except for really busy pedestrian times, such as first Fridays.
The title of this post, Sidewalk Seating, opens me up to exploring the topic of public seating on our sidewalks and in our parks. I'm all for places to sit and the only downside to the outside restaurant seating around town is you have to pay for a meal to sit there!