A. Right now we are working on a pilot project to install in NYC for 2-3 weeks in spring 2013. Once we are comfortable with the safety and durability of the Kit of Parts we will market them to Business Improvement Districts and sidewalk shed contractors.
Q. What is a sidewalk shed?
A. Most people refer to these structures simply as scaffolding. A sidewalk shed is also called a sidewalk bridge. It resembles scaffolding, but is designed to protect pedestrians from falling debris.
Q. Are sidewalk sheds safe? Aren't they for construction?
A. Most sidewalk sheds are up from 6 months to 2 years, however we found some up for over 10 years! In New York City, many are installed because of Local Law 11, which requires any building over 5 stories to inspect the facade of the building every 5 years. Many sidewalk sheds are installed for this purpose and aren’t active construction sites with cranes etc.
Q. How many sidewalk sheds are there in New York City?
A. There are over 6,000 sidewalk sheds up at any given point in time. If you lined them all up form end to end, they would stretch from NYC to Baltimore!
Q. What is the Kit of Parts?
A. The Kit of Parts includes seats, counters, planters and lighting reflectors. Kits are available for use by businesses, sidewalk shed contractors and business improvement districts. Softwalks leases the Kit of Parts for festivals and sells complete Kits to qualified organizations to use.
Q. How do I get a Kit of Parts for my building, business, organization, etc?
A. Our goal is to implement a pilot project in Spring 2013. Be sure to get on our mailing list and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest developments.
Q-Who would want to hang out at a construction site, and aren’t these structures up for a fairly short duration?
A. We have discovered that sidewalk sheds can be placed into two categories: Active and Passive. Active sidewalk sheds are installed at construction sites. We are not interested in these sidewalk sheds because they are loud dangerous places with plenty of workers and activity. These sidewalk sheds are normally up for a very specific and planned time, unless a project stalls. The passive sidewalk sheds are the type we will seek out to install the pilot project. These sidewalk sheds are erected due to NYC’s Local Law 11. In some cases, major work is required, which is quite a burden for some building owners who do not have the means to pay for what could be expensive work.
Q-What is the long term vision for Softwalks?
A. Softwalks is not starting a small manufacturing business. The purpose of the pilot project is to finalize a couple parts for public use, install and observe the pilot project. Then, if the pilot project is successful we will market the finished Kit of Parts to one Business Improvement District to use for special events, street festivals and short periods of time where extra seating and counter space is quite helpful. At that point, the buyer would own the Kit of Parts and can deploy it at their discretion.
Q- Will the pilot project make it difficult for blind and handicapped people to navigate the street?
A. For the pilot project, we will identify the most ideal site to install the Kit of Parts. This is a very wide sidewalk with a narrow sidewalk shed. The Kit of Parts is designed to attach to the space between the outside of the sidewalk shed and the street curb. This space is underutilized and many times vacant of pedestrian activity. From our observations we have had no complaints from blind or handicapped people. Yet this is one of many reasons we hope to install the pilot project - to learn more about streetscape behaviors and the needs or requirements of public amenities.