3:28 pm Oct. 23, 2012
How is it possible that Travel & Leisure magazine could rank New York the dirtiest city in the United States while Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration claims that 95.5 percent of city streets are "acceptably clean"?
That's a paradox Doug Turetsky, the chief of staff for the New York City Independent Budget Office, sought to unwind in a recent post called, "Whose streets you calling dirty?"
Here's the nut of it:
[T]here are two key reasons the survey findings may not mesh with public perceptions. First, the streets surveyed and the rating scale were developed in the late 1970s, a time when there may have been lower expectations—at least compared with today—for what measured up as an acceptably clean street. Additionally, the surveyed streets may no longer provide the most representative sample.
...Secondly, the ratings are compiled Monday through Friday. So the survey doesn’t capture a view of street cleanliness on weekends and holidays, when tourists abound and neighborhood commercial streets are busiest and litter most likely to pile up and trash cans overflow.
Finally, it might just be possible that tourists don't know what they're talking about.
Or, as Turetsky puts it, "For some tourists, the sense that the city’s streets are dirty may be heightened by the crowds and disorder that characterizes street life in some parts of New York, a level of activity that may be alien to their usual experience."
It's a good read, available here.
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