It alleviates a lot of bad breath, but boy is it messy. Seriously, every stretch of urban sidewalk is blighted with tar-like black splotches of hardened gum. But that’s not half as bad as when it’s still fresh and soft, stuck in icky places like the undersides of stairway handrails. Buddy the Elf could have contracted meningitis out there!
Thankfully, Gotham is far from the gummiest town around, as city laws require businesses to keep their sidewalks debris-free. This saves it from the dubious status of Mexico City, whose sidewalks boasted an average of 70 pieces of ABC gum per square yard in 2009, or London, where artists can find enough discarded chew to stick their masterpieces to the ground.
But wouldn’t New York’s sidewalks shine with the power of a million sequins if Mayor Bloomberg just flat-out banned the stuff? If Singapore is any indication, they might. The city-state outlawed the import and sale of chewing gum in 1992, and even now, only imported “therapeutic” gum is allowed. And guess what? Their sidewalks are neat as a pin.
Other cities are already getting ahead of us. San Francisco started fining businesses up to $500 in 2010 if the area in front of their property wasn’t clean–and that included gum on the sidewalk.
Even if gum isn’t banned or officials don’t crack down, there should be more trash cans or special gum receptacles or something. If you ask us, gum is as much of a health and safety issue as soda, and its absence could make for a much prettier city.