Manhattan Residents Demand Action Over Unsafe Sidewalk Conditions

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A new survey reveals Manhattan pedestrians’ dissatisfaction with sidewalks in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.

A recent survey Manhattan Community Board 4 revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the sidewalks in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea neighborhoods, according to a recent report by StreetsBlog. The Community Board surveyed a total of 960 responds, 10% listed as having disabilities, and received 4,909 comments. The average age of the respondents was 52 years old, and 80% of respondents lived in zip codes associated with Community Board 4.

In total, 48% of the survey’s overall respondents rated the neighborhoods’ sidewalks as “Poor-Very Poor,” and 64% of respondents with disabilities rated them as such. 57% of overall respondents said the city did a “Poor-Very Poor” job of maintaining the sidewalks, while 68% of respondents with disabilities reported such. A total of 62% of respondents said the city did a “Poor-Very Poor” job of clearing snow from sidewalk infrastructure, while 69% of respondents with disabilities reported such.

According to StreetsBlog, the survey was conducted in a broader effort by the Community Board—as well as CHEKPEDS, an advocacy group for vulnerable pedestrians—”who do not do a good enough job and have not been held accountable by the city.” CHEKPEDS leader Christine Berthet told StreetsBlog that small businesses have been burdened by sidewalk maintenance requirements, which CHEKPEDS believes should be the city’s responsibility. “A smaller ask would be to treat sidewalk repairs the same as roadways,” she said. “When there is a pothole on the road, it must be repaired in 15 days. We want the same for sidewalks. We want the same level of service.”

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Manhattan Community Board 4 has requested the city initiate a study of sidewalk maintenance and repair practices.

The survey also asked for respondents’ feedback on the city’s level of service via its 311 system, finding that 82% said they were “very dissatisfied” or “dissatisfied.” Comments received by the survey included the following: “I don’t think anyone will do anything about it. None of these issues are new and have been going on for years.” “I’ve found that reporting issues like these to 311 doesn’t do anything to get sidewalks or bus stops cleared.” “I’ve never had a satisfactory response from 311. You report, and get an email stating that they are looking into the problem. As is with noise complaints, no one actually comes to investigate in a timely manner.”

The Community Board has written to New York City’s Deputy Mayor and City Council Speaker noting that it voted unanimously to demand a city review of “current practices in the Departments of Transportation and Sanitation related to sidewalk repairs and maintenance” as a result of its residents’ dissatisfaction with the community’s sidewalks, according to StreetsBlog. More information on the issue is available via StreetsBlog and the Community Board’s survey itself.

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