Spiked cobblestones meant to deter panhandlers causing stir in New Bedford


 (WPRI) — A new addition to the median of a New Bedford intersection is causing a stir in the city.

Crews installed spiked cobblestones a few days ago, which are meant to deter panhandlers. But a group of city councilors are calling the move, “inhumane.”

Eyewitness News reached out to city officials for comment. A spokesperson said the changes are an improvement to the area.

In a statement, the spokesperson wrote that the improved median strip is, “intended to address an increasingly dangerous situation where people walking along the median have to put both themselves and motorists at risk.”

But those against the new cobblestone say it’s meant to keep panhandlers away. Kevin Rioux, who is homeless, said he knows people who stand on the side of the road and ask for money.

“The jagged cobblestone situation, I think it’s kind of messed up,” Rioux said. “This ain’t a solution, there should be programs out there for somebody.”

City Councilor Hugh Dunn is also against the new cobblestone median. He said a new program is in place involving signs being put up around the city with information giving responsibility to organizations that offer to help the homeless.

“Those signs are going up and it was shocking for me to see that we’re spiking cobblestones, while we’re also designing these signs that are really going to help people,” Dunn said.

The city also said the cobblestones are a safety measure not just to deter panhandlers, but also to prevent serious accidents. They said there was a fatal accident that occurred at the intersection several years ago.

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