New York Map Highlights Sidewalks with Social Distancing Possibilities

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.

New York Map Highlights Sidewalks with Social Distancing Possibilities - More Images+ 10

Using data from New York City’s sidewalk dataset, the mapshows 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.

Courtesy of Meli Harvey

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 

Courtesy of 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”.

News via The Verge.

We invite you to check out ArchDaily's coverage related to COVID-19, read our tips and articles on Productivity When Working from Home and learn about technical recommendations for Healthy Design in your future projects. Also, remember to review the latest advice and information on COVID-19 from the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

Image gallery

See allShow less
About this author
Cite: Christele Harrouk. "New York Map Highlights Sidewalks with Social Distancing Possibilities" 27 Apr 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.