Street Stories: Andrea Gonzalez Sanchez

Street Stories is an interview series with Providence residents about how they move around the our city by local photographer Brittanny Taylor. Would you like to share your story? Get in touch

Name, age, any personal identities you feel like sharing, neighborhood where you live.

Andrea Gonzalez Sanchez. Eighteen years old, Latinx queer woman. I recently moved to EP but have lived five years in Providence. I live alone and spend most of my time with my partner’s family. I attend CCRI so I can transfer to RIC for a Masters in Social Work.

How do you typically travel around Providence? Is that working for you? How does it affect your life?

Before COVID, I would take the bus every single day. I would go to school, to work, and I would get home thanks to the bus. That, of course, included a lot of walking as well. Currently, it doesn’t work due to COVID because I work with my partner’s family, and they are high risk. Because of not taking buses, I have not been able to do in-person jobs and continue doing online only. It has been very stressful for my partner’s family and me since everyone wants me to be able to work (since it is my passion), but me working (in person) could put them at risk.

What are your views on how the elimination of Kennedy Plaza as the central bus hub will affect yourself and the people you know?

I still can’t comprehend why anyone would want to remove Kennedy Plaza from where it currently is! Many of us have grown up taking the bus there; it is very convenient! Removing Kennedy Plaza would cause many issues for the people who usually take the bus. They would have to learn the new places to wait, the new schedules, and risk being left somewhere they haven’t been in before. It is very scary, especially for a young woman such as myself, where they warn me not to walk on streets I don’t know.

How would you ideally like to get around Providence, and what would need to happen to make that a reality?

Ideally, there would be safer streets for pedestrians and better busses, since I do like walking and taking the bus. Firstly, when it snows, some people refuse to clear their driveways, which leads to people like me having to walk on the road. Then, drivers get upset because they don’t like people walking on the side of the road, but I have nowhere else to go! All driveways should be cleared, and if the people can’t clear them, then the state should provide support for those who lack the physical ability to shovel or the funds to pay for it to be removed. The roads should also be maintained better, hopefully providing cyclists and pedestrians a safe way to walk and ride. I also wish there was a priority on making buses extra safe (regarding COVID) for individuals who travel often.

Do you feel safe when traveling around Providence? Where do you feel safe, and where do you not?

I used to feel safer before COVID when my friends and I would travel together everywhere. If I have to walk somewhere, I am very cautious and usually feel unsafe due to situations where men have tried to grab me or have yelled obscene things at me. That kind of environment makes me feel unsafe. It isn’t an “unsafe place” sort of situation for me, but instead, it seems that more and more people are becoming comfortable cat-calling young women, honking at them, and bothering them.

How could the City or RIPTA improve your experience getting around?

I would love to see safer roads, better-maintained driveways (with the city’s support), and buses become a priority in COVID safety.