‘Social distancing machine’ shows sidewalks unsafe for coronavirus

Social distancing guidelines, which suggest people stay at least six feet away from all other people, have reached nearly all parts of North America, as the public grapples with attempting to stop the spread of coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes. Although local and federal governments have issued stay-at-home orders, millions of people continue to step outside for fresh air, for exercise, and to walk pets. In many cities, where sidewalk infrastructure is often smaller and more crowded, strictly following these guidelines is simply not possible without walking on the street. A Toronto resident recently made a “social distancing machine” to demonstrate this inherent problem for city dwellers and to call for street closures so people can spread out.

Daniel Rotsztain, a Toronto-based writer and artist, built what amounts to a giant Hula Hoop for this social experiment. The circle is about 12 feet in diameter, per social distancing guidelines, and intersecting rubber straps make it wearable. Rotsztain wore his self-imposed bubble around several hot spots in Toronto and found that nearly every place was inadequate and unsafe.

“Made a social distance machine to show why @cityoftoronto needs to close major streets like Yonge during COVID-19,” Rotsztain said in a tweet via Daily Hive. “Our sidewalks are too narrow to keep a safe distance.” 

Closing down streets for pedestrians is an ongoing discussion in cities around the world right now. New York City recently tried closing a small amount of roadway to allow for pedestrian use, but the resources needed to do so were too demanding, so the streets have been reopened. Other places such as Boston, Oakland, and Minneapolis have closed streets and kept them closed.

Watch the video below to see Rotsztain’s difficulties with social distancing.