New York City Sidewalks are Not for Everyone

In 2015, CityLab conducted a global study that ranked 42 major cities based on how much they built sidewalks. It found that in the United States, people in more than 40 percent of cities said they did not have access to sidewalks on most of their routes home from work and more than 40 percent said their sidewalk only partially covered the ground. The results showed that out of the largest 42 cities studied, many did not provide enough space to walk or scoot away from one’s car with minimal or no attention to pedestrians or traffic.

In New York City, sidewalks on which are often the last remaining one-way streets cut down on the sidewalk space and the overall walking area for most people who live in the city. Many walkers are forced to use the sidewalk as a thoroughfare, and a sidewalk is seen as a one-way street by drivers who make fast turns and honk their horns at pedestrians. To give their pedestrians more space, the city has been repairing sidewalks where needed, but some say the city should stop giving little warning of where the sidewalk is. What was originally a road was divided into a one-way street. The DOT identified affected areas and built a one-way sidewalk, but the sidewalk instantly ends, so pedestrians cannot move to another place along the sidewalk. Local advocates have demanded that the city issue warning signs along the sidewalks. Instead, there have been deaths attributed to negligence.

To see the new reality of New York City sidewalks, watch “Before & After: New York City Sidewalks” or see the city’s plans for improving them:

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