Certain parts of Manhattan--Times Square, Herald Square, Broadway south of 23rd Street, and locations in the outer boroughs as well--suffer from sidewalk spillover. That's what happens when sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate everyone who has to use them, forcing pedestrians into the roadway.
On certain streets, sidewalk spillover is inevitable, an everyday occurrence. It's the direct result of policies and planning--long in effect and only now being challenged--that favor the rights of drivers over pedestrians.
But to mount an effective challenge to these policies, we shouldn't just call for greater equity. That would be like saying that all forms of transportation have equivalent impact on the community and should be assigned more equal portions of public street-space.
But the impacts are in no way equivalent. We know that public and alternative forms of transportation like walking, bicycling and skating are healthier, cheaper, more efficient and more business-friendly than private cars. Our transportation policy should reflect that awareness.
We should be rewarding those who use low-impact forms of transportation and penalizing those who insist on using private transit--cars--that foul our air and turn neighborhood streets into highways and parking lots. And those rewards should be made tangible in street design--specifically, in the way space is allocated to various forms of transportation on high-traffic streets.