Proposed Vending Bill Would Hamper City’s Sidewalks

“Vending is a commercial enterprise that creates private income. Sidewalks are for all of us, and until now the city has sought to ensure that all those items that encroach on pedestrian space constitute a public service, such as parking meters, trees, and fire hydrants.”

Adi Talwar

Street vendors near the 82nd Street subway station in Jackson Heights, Queens, in 2022.

When it comes to our sidewalks, what they are for, and who should use them, we are living in two different worlds.

For years, we’ve seen improvements to the pedestrian experience in New York City. Mayor Eric Adams appointed a public realm czar. When some avenues are so crowded that New Yorkers have had to walk in the street, or in bike lanes, the city started adding “bump-outs”—extensions of the sidewalk near corners—to accommodate the crowds. They also created some mid-block crosswalks. These changes have all worked.

In Manhattan’s Chinatown, the city is committing $40 million to redesign Chatham-Kimlau Square to create a four-way intersection with larger public space and shorter pedestrian crossings. In Brooklyn’s Dumbo, there is a $100 million street reconstruction project which includes widening the sidewalks on the way into Brooklyn Bridge Park. In Downtown Brooklyn, Mayor Adams has committed $40 million for pedestrian improvements to improve the shopping experience along Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue.

These are examples of a city that values pedestrians—as it should—since they are critical to the vitality and vibrancy of our communities.

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