Everyone walks in New York: 11.4 million of us walk every day. This includes 1.1 million commuters arriving at the bus terminal, at Grand Central, and at Penn Station. Sixty million tourists visit New York annually and they walk. And we pay the highest price for that privilege: since 2014, 663 crash fatalities involved pedestrians – 50% of the total – and 55,000 pedestrians were injured.

Yet in Manhattan our walking infrastructure has been overlooked: 60-story buildings have replaced six-story tenements or 12-story commercial buildings, without any changes to the sidewalk width. Sidewalks are crowded to the point of overflowing into traffic at great risk to walkers. A recent analysis of Eighth Avenue shows that at peak hour, 85% of street users walk on 30% of the street space; in contrast, 12% of street users are in a vehicle and occupy 70% of the space. There are at least five different rules for the minimum width of the pedestrian right-of- way, varying from 9’-6” to 3’-0”. IMG_8499

And whereas it takes just two days to fill a pothole, it takes six to eighteen months to repair dangerous sidewalk conditions. People with disabilities have to sue the City to obtain compliance with federal laws.




This inequity cannot be ignored any longer. It is time to address the pressing needs of the walking public – all of us – in this Master Plan. The City needs to re-envision the sidewalks not as peripheral spaces to the “side” of the far-more-prioritized vehicles, but as “Walk Lanes”, pedestrian rights-of-way, with the same status as traffic lanes, parking lanes, and bike lanes. Depending on volume and capacity, a Walk Lane could be located entirely on a sidewalk or a plaza, or both on a sidewalk and in the adjacent street, or entirely in the street.

CB4 recommends that

  • the city evaluates  500 miles of walk lanes annually for capacity, safety and quality including ADA compliance
  • the city fix 100 miles of walk lanes annually
  • DOT establishes unified standards for minimal walking lanes width
  • DOT  and other agencies  streamline Walk Lanes maintenance and enforcement of obstructions

Read the full text here. 


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Christina Morrissey
Christina Morrissey
4 years ago

“Walk lanes, traffic lanes, parking lanes, bike lanes”…no mention of sorely needed enforced BUS lanes. If our buses ran consistently, there wouldn’t be such a demand for uber et al, freeing up space for walking. Those of us 4 or 5 avenues from the subway depend on buses. Please I clude enforced bus lanes as a priority on our streets.

Michael Federman
Michael Federman
4 years ago

How about curb cuts that are not always under water ? Wheelchairs get stuck people get wet crossing. It’s a construction situation

Team Chekpeds
Team Chekpeds
4 years ago

agreed on all points . the assessment of the walk lanes would include the curb cuts under water.
the bus lanes plan include making them a priority.