As social distancing becomes the new norm in the fight against COVID-19, people are finding it harder to keep up with the six-foot rule in dense cities. Urban Planner Meli Harvey developed a map of New York that shows the width of sidewalks in the city, aiming to highlight public areas where social distancing can be maintained.
Using data from New York City’s sidewalk dataset, the map “shows exactly how narrow the sidewalks in New York are, with colors overlaid onto the city’s grid”. In fact, in New York and in most of the metropolises, the six-foot rule is hard to follow as sidewalks are not wide enough for social distancing.
As an urban planner, I already spend a lot of time thinking about how we use public space. When the pandemic hit, all of the sudden the rules that governed how people interact in public space we're turned upside down. Everyone became hyper-aware about how the qualities of the street impacted their ability to maintain social distance. I wanted to document one factor that plays an important role in determining the ease at which someone can socially distance on the street. -- Meli Harvey
While the biggest challenge faced by Harvey was to generate the width of sidewalks from the available data sources provided through New York City's Open Data portal, the project in itself aims to open the conversation about the future of public spaces.
In fact, Harvey states that “I was surprised that data for sidewalk widths doesn't exist. We have copious amounts of data about streets as they pertain to automobiles and other forms of transit. Yet when it comes to walking, there is very little data to work with […] pandemic aside, I hope people will think more about how our public spaces create our experiences as pedestrians. The map serves as an artifact of how the planning practices of the last centuries have impacted our pedestrian landscapes”.
Check your #physicaldistance! Use your surroundings to make sure you’re maintaining 6 feet of distance from others to help stop the spread of #covid19.— NYCPlanning (@NYCPlanning) April 8, 2020
Benches, tree pits and more can help you easily visualize how far you should be from the people you pass. #whatis6feet pic.twitter.com/EpH2Jn3Itc
News via The Verge.
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