City-dwellers have forever fantasized about walking on sidewalks with rigorously enforced etiquette. Anyone who has encountered a gaggle of gawking, lumbering tourists, a texting zombie, or the percentage of the population that appears never to have learned how to walk in a straight line knows exactly why. There’s just part of our reptilian brain that can’t handle an unnecessary delay — and must destroy anything standing in our path.
People have come up with all sorts of solutions to the problem — pedestrian penalty cards, a fake NYC Department of Pedestrian Etiquette that enforces mandatory training, or that old reliable, the expressing of blind rage on internet forums. “I live and work in NYC. I walk through those people. Fuck em,” one particularly frustrated New Yorker vented recently on Reddit.
But the prayers of every New Yorker who has quelled his pedestrian-induced homicidal urges may have just been answered. The English city of Liverpool is now home to the country’s first-ever pedestrian “fast lane” — a part of the sidewalk designated specifically for the hurried walker. The idea seems to have been invented by the retailer Argos, which painted a “fast lane” outside of its Liverpool store, the Daily Mail reported, partly in response to the city’s epidemic of slow-footed shoppers.
The idea even boasts some statistical reinforcement. According to research conducted by Argos, “47% of the nation finds slow walking the most annoying aspect of high-street shopping,” the Independent reported. Sixty-nine percent of 16- to 24-year-olds seem to support the fast lanes (though just 37 percent of those over 55 favored the plan).
But here’s the real question: Can we please get these in New York? The idea of altering a sidewalk in an American city isn’t as groundbreaking as you might think. National Geographic experimented with sidewalk lanes designated for cellphone users in Washington, D.C. — though, sadly, many seemed to ignore the markings.
Still, it’s hard to imagine that New Yorkers wouldn’t quickly start policing the paths — just ask any pedestrian who has inadvertently graced the bike-only lane of the Brooklyn Bridge. As for the de Blasio administration, they haven’t responded to a request for comment on whether the city would explore the idea. But stay tuned for their (hopefully emphatic) response.