Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Coronavirus Crisis

Mayor: Christmas Season Sidewalks are for Trees, Not People

Should we take more space away from car storage to make our holidays even more festive and even more safe? The mayor does not think so.

Mayor de Blasio doesn't see anything wrong with sidewalks crowded with Christmas trees — in fact, he sees it as part of the "magic" of the holiday season — even though his administration is still recommending that people stay six feet apart at all times.

At his daily press conference on Monday, the mayor declined to see constricted sidewalks as a problem, even though his administration has worked aggressively to create more space for pedestrians to socially distance during the COVID-19 crisis, in the form of his open streets program, which created scores of miles for safe recreation; an "Open Streets: Restaurant" initiative to allow eateries to use curbside space; and even a pilot program to allow residential buildings to put their garbage in the curbside space instead of on the sidewalk.

Under questioning from Streetsblog, the mayor said he did not see the need for an "Open Streets: Christmas" plan to allow tree sellers to use curbside spaces instead of already crowded sidewalks.

"Well, that's an interesting idea," he said, before dismissing it. "In my personal experience, that the way it's been set up over the years, with folks selling Christmas trees [on the sidewalk], has worked pretty well in New York City. It's part of the magic of the season."

There's plenty of room in the street, fir Pete's sake. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
There's plenty of room in the street, fir Pete's sake. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
There's plenty of room in the street, fir Pete's sake. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

He said he would "look at it," but added, "I don't know if we need it immediately with Christmas trees."

The comment came after de Blasio had singled out Streetsblog — "I'll give you credit" — for encouraging wider use of public roadways for socially beneficial activities beyond the storage of vehicles.

"We have found we have been able to innovate and have wonderful new experiences by using our public spaces differently," the mayor said.

But the innovations apparently don't include sidewalk space during what is widely considered "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" — even during a global pandemic.

Advocates see Christmas tree reform as low-hanging fruit — though it's really just one root of pedestrian discrimination that needs to be cut.

"Yes, it would be nice [to get Christmas trees off the sidewalk], but not the highest priority because it is not year round (and it smells good)," said venerable pedestrian advocate Christine Berthet of CHEKPEDS, who reminded the mayor of her group's other priorities: safer sewer drains, regulation of sandwich boards, the garbage pilot program, newsboxes, LinkNYC kiosks and, of course, police precinct house commanders who have stolen sidewalks from pedestrians, which Manhattan Community Board 4 recently protested.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

SUV Driver Kills Girl, 3, in Harlem, Wounds Mom And Young Brothers

The girl's death marks another grim entry into a crisis of pedestrian traffic deaths this year.

July 12, 2024

Moped and E-Bike Safety Legislation Becomes State Law

Retailers must register mopeds at the point of sale, in addition to giving new owners safety information, under new legislation signed by Gov. Hochul on Thursday.

July 12, 2024

Roadway Dining May See Dramatic Decline Under Eric Adams As Deadline Looms

Fewer than two dozen restaurants are in the pipeline for roadside seating, according to public records.

July 12, 2024

Opinion: Congestion Pricing Is A Compromise

Alternatives paths to cut congestion and pollution and fund the MTA make congestion tolls look like a cheap parlor trick.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Department of Victim Blaming Edition

Traffic deaths in the city are on pace to reach their highest number since at least 2013 — and DOT is reportedly blaming "jaywalking." Plus more news.

July 12, 2024
See all posts