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Our Social Distance ‘Machine’ Shows That Pedestrians Are Unprotected in De Blasio’s New York

4:21 PM EDT on April 17, 2020

There’s just no room.

There is no way to stay six feet away from anyone on a six-foot-wide New York City sidewalk.

So with Mayor de Blasio willfully rejecting calls to create more open space by reallocating some of Gotham's thousands of miles of lightly used roadways, we got inspired by Toronto artists Daniel Rotsztain and Bobby Gadda, who built a "social distance machine" to shame their city into creating more room to walk around in a socially responsible way.

The result is our latest music video (which, given that it's about the virus, we hope it will go viral). It depicts Streetsblog Editor Gersh Kuntzman using his own version* of Rotsztain and Gadda's 12-foot circle as he walks around his Brooklyn neighborhood.

The footage below is accompanied by the latest song parody by our in-house satire band, The Speeders. It's a takeoff of the Police's hit song, "Don't Stand So Close to Me," except that it's called "Don't Breathe So Close to Me." The lyrics are below the video.


speeders zenyatta cover

Our sidewalks
The site of
New Yorkers' constant dread
Walking right to the market
There’s lots of viral spread!
The rules are
To distance
Six feet or more at least
In Gotham
It’s not easy
Sidewalks make us deceased!

Don’t breathe so
Don’t breathe so
Don’t breathe so close to me.

Of Oakland, we’re jealous
On roads there, you can walk
Our mayor
Just won’t bother
He hates it when drivers squawk.
Stagnation, frustration
So bad it makes us scream
Just give us
Some space for
Walkers to reign supreme

Don’t breathe so
Don’t breathe so
Don’t breathe so close to me.

Let’s face it
This virus
Makes sidewalks a disgrace
Just walking is so tough now
'Cause cars get all the space
It’s no use
De Blasio
Loves to hear cars go "roar"
Just like the ad men from
Chrysler, GM and Ford!

Don’t breathe so close to me.
Don’t breathe so close to me.
Don’t breathe so close to me.

* Kuntzman's version of Rotsztain and Gadda's "machine" was flawed because he could not figure out, as the Toronto artists did, how to create a 37-foot circular orbit — and keep it level at the waist. Kuntzman's diameter is only six feet, compared to Rotsztain and Gadda's 12. But you get the idea.

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