City Planning To Walkers: Drop Dead

Hot damn, look at all that room to maneuver. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Hot damn, look at all that room to maneuver. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The Department of City Planning accidentally revealed that New York City’s sidewalks weren’t wide enough for safe passage, in a tweet trying to demonstrate how to socially distance while you’re walkin’ here.

The bad tweet (a form of social media post that this reporter obviously knows nothing about!) was an attempt to use sidewalk geometry to show New Yorkers how to stay six feet away from each other in this era of social distancing.

But the agency did so by calling attention to the fact that “most” city sidewalks are made up of five-foot by five-foot squares placed next to each other. The sidewalk shown in the example in the department’s tweets showed 10 feet of horizontal sidewalk space given over to walking in a best-case scenario, which made it next to impossible for New Yorkers to safely keep their distance from each other, as Streetsblog’s own Julianne Cuba pointed out.

Other New Yorkers decided to go out and see how much space they could find outside their apartments, and the results were less than ideal, especially when compared to how much room was given over to motor vehicles, 30 to 40 feet per street.

In other neighborhoods, a tape measure that was only five feet long still managed to almost stretch out across the entire sidewalk.

And in Park Slope (photo at the top of this story), two people had about two feet max between them as they passed between a tree pit and a property line.

There were sidewalks that were barely five feet wide next to parking lanes that were seven feet wide.

Sidewalks were also cut down thanks to the city’s true priorities: leaving only seven feet of sidewalk space to make room for rows of trash cans that are more than two-feet wide.

Someone was also found a sidewalk with barely more than two and a half feet of space to walk on in one spot.

Unless you think City Planning was trying to kneecap the very mayor who never tried to understand how to open streets for pedestrians without making it an over-policed mess, it’s a strange admission by a government agency that you’re basically never safe while walking outside.

At least until someone creates car-free zones — there’s more than enough public space in the roadway, after all.