The Tourist Lane


I just returned from five days in New York. I was sad I didn't get to see my pal Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere (he had late rehearsals), I was delighted when I came home and saw IE's latest mission. They used chalk (the kind that marks playing fields) to denote a local lane and a tourist lane on the NYC sidewalk.

I don't understand why sidewalk etiquette isn't taught in schools. I think it is the number one problem that faces our nation today. The basics are simple. Walk with purpose, keep to the right, don't spread out when in groups, pass on the left, step out of the moving traffic if you're going to stop. I am not above dropping a shoulder when these basics are ignored.

Of course, New York's incredible tourist population and hyper-crowded sidewalks make this all the more important, but I grew up with the same problems in downtown San Francisco. Little did I know that I would one day move to a new city - Los Angeles, where no one has any idea how to walk on a sidewalk at all.

Anyway: great job, IE. Glad to see you working on social justice issues.


WTF people? It's a horse!

I live in one of the most touristy spots in the south and I can't tell you how much the sidewalk thing bothers me. We're an old historic city and the sidewalks here are NARROW. You'll be walking along, all happy to be on your way to a specific destination, when all of a sudden 10 people in front of you have to stop and take a picture of the horse and carriage going by, causing a complete tie up in sidewalk traffic. Meanwhile, you are forced to stand there in the heat, with sweat making it's way from your back to your ass, because people don't have the sense or decency to get the hell out of the way. I'm with you on this one Jesse!

Shoulder Dropping

Where I come from, extreme rudeness is a far worse crime than failing to adhere to local, unwritten rules of conduct. When it comes to social justice, I prefer the fight to end snobbishness and elitism by refusing to judge others by their mastery of sidewalk etiquette. FYI, the "L.A. sucks" theme was tired before you ever got hold of it.


Disgruntled Southern Fan

I don't know if it's just

I don't know if it's just that the place you're from is completely different, DSF, but I'm from the south and I'm completely on board with sidewalk etiquette--it's not an issue of snobbishness or elitism, it's an awareness of the people around you. If I'm slowly meandering around a city, I need to be aware that the people who live there are walking to work, various appointments, etc. and I may unintentionally be in their way. I'd expect them to do the same for me on my home turf.

Sure, I understand that

Sure, I understand that tourists/dawdlers/idiots are a pain and I regularly curse them myself within the confines of my own head. However, the reference to physically bumping someone for their ignorance and the aloof tone really rubbed me the wrong way. It makes me want to say "take your pocket square and your fake sophistication and shove them blah blah blah." The feeling probably emanates from a suspicion that I would more likely be perceived as another "dumpy" bumpkin rather than a fellow traveler were we to meet in real life. I'm sure that a lot of that comes from my own issues but some is most definitely a result of the emphasis on appearance and blurbs that drip with faux sophistication like the above.

You're Welcome

Jesse, I hope you walked in the appropriate lane during your visit. I was bummed to miss you.