NYC sidewalk with a tourist lane

A merry prankster has painted a dividing line down the sidewalk beside New York's iconic Flatiron Building, on the Fifth Ave side; the line demarks two walking lanes: one for dawdling tourists, the other for briskly moving locals.

New Yorkers vs Tourists: Divided Sidewalks? (Thanks, Ronny!)


  1. Would that “real” New Yorkers walked in a linear, straight-line, predictable fashion: it’s way more of a quickly moving inchoate mass.

    Does Rand Paul support this?

  2. I live in an area that sees an impressive amount of tourists in the warmer months- when those cruise ships start coming in, the sidewalks really jam up (especially with our dutch visitors for some reason). Its frustrating, but realizing that many rely on tourism for their livelyhood, I try my best to be friendly.

  3. This is awesome, I would soooooo make fun of the slow moving tourists! I hated walking out of Grand Central to the horde of tourists outside.

  4. I wish the only problem were dawdling. Too often out of towners don’t seem to grasp that walking is not a leisure activity for locals, it’s how we actually get around. My personal favorite is the guy who emerges from the subway and stops, right at the top of the stairs, looking around confusedly, as if there weren’t 200 people right behind him trying to get to work. Would you park your car in the middle of an offramp and take out a map? No?

  5. I work in Times Square and like to think of the sidewalk as ‘for tourists’ and the street next to the sidewalk, where people typically walk much faster and are in constant danger of death by cab, as the New Yorkers’ lane.

  6. I would also support adding high school students to the tourist side. They also take up space and walk slow.

  7. I hate how a group of slow-moving people will walk side by side so as to make a very slow moving wall that is as wide as the sidewalk, making you have to walk on the street to get around them.

    1. Yes, totally agreed. I think the above solution should actually be implemented. Think of it as a HOV lane for sidewalks

  8. I used to commute in once a week for work. That work involved me spending my day moving from retail store to retail store from Park Row up to 59th.

    I was never a native New Yorker, but I moved like one. I wasn’t a tourist by any sense of the definition, and was annoyed as everyone else by the tourists. I can totally appreciate the demarcation and would be firmly planted, er, briskly walking, on the New Yorkers side.

  9. We need this in Hawaii too. Lived in Waikiki for a while, and they walk so slow, stopping every 2 minutes to take another picture in front of another palm tree. I know they are vital to the economy, but for us locals, it’s frustrating. Especially when you’re on your way to work or the bar…

  10. This is not the first — there has been one for a few weeks on Third Street betweeh Aves. A and B. Once again, Alphabet City leads the way!

    1. They’re all over town, and have been for a while. Here’s a photo of one on Rivington Street from 7th April (shameless blog-plug) and I’m sure it wasn’t the first to appear.

  11. In Washington DC we reserve our ire for people who stand still on the right side of the metro escaladers instead of walking up/down them or moving to the left.

    1. I hope you mean “people who stand on the left.” If not then you’re part of the problem…stand right, walk left.

  12. Lets add a “rules of the sidewalk” sign at every bus stop, subway entrance and hotel lobby. And they’re not just for tourists, plenty of New Yorkers are sidewalk bandits.

    #1- walk like you’d drive! Stay right, don’t step out of a store without looking whose path you’re stepping into, don’t weave back and forth, look over your shoulder before suddenly ducking left or right, don’t stop suddenly.

    #2- Don’t have your large group meetings right in the middle of the sidewalk, nor walk slowly all in a line across the sidewalk.

    #3- Don’t stop in doorways or at stair or escalator landings to open umbrellas, check maps, make phone calls, etc.

    #4- Don’t walk or loiter with a lit cigarette dangling from your hand where people are likely to brush against it on a crowded sidewalk.

    #5- especially mind all of the above where the sidewalk is already obstructed with construction bridges, pushcarts, sidewalk cafes and street vendors.

  13. Cool, except isn’t the passing lane always on the left? Or maybe that’s not the outside lane. Hard to tell from the picture.

  14. Tourism has a huge economic impact on the New York City economy. Perhaps the locals should stop bitching and be a little more thankful.

    Total visitor spending from New York City tourism in 2008: $32.1 billion
    Total wages generated by New York City tourism in 2008: $17.19 billion
    Total NYC jobs supported by visitor spending in 2008: 313,997
    Total taxes generated by visitor spending in 2008: $8.26 billion
    Each New York City household benefited by an average of $1,300 in tax savings as a result of travel and tourism.

    1. As a resident of Manhattan let me just say, I make absolutely no money off the tourist trade and the $1300 in tax savings is a drop in the bucket, so whatever, come here, spend your pathetic handfuls of cash on cheesy snowglobes and die cast taxis so you can go back to East Nowhere Wisconsin and pretend to be the experienced sophisticated traveler we all know you aren’t, but the next time a herd of bible belt buffalo abruptly halts in front of me to take a picture of the 20th building in a row, I’m taking your camera as compensation for wasting my time. You obnoxious people are the reason Americans aren’t welcome in other countries.

  15. It’s actually a really great idea! Here in the Washington, DC area, the first thing many tourists learn is that if you want to stand on Metro escalators and let the escalator do the work, you stand to the right, and if you want to climb, you stay to the left. It helps to keep a civil atmosphere between commuters and tourists (most of the time, anyway!).

  16. God knows we could use this in Tokyo. Please get out of my way, some of us have places to be.

  17. I’m inclined to write to Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) to suggest we implement this on the Underground, at least in busy interchange stations like Bank, which I have to fight my way through twice a day. That, or allow season pass holders to use electric cattle prods.

    I mean, what is it with tourists that they step off the top of an escalator and stand there vaguely puzzled as to what to do next? Get out of my bloody way, that would be a good thing to begin with. Also, when you walk onto a platform, either turn left or right if you enter at the middle or carry on walking a bit if you’re at one end. Don’t, for the love of all that is good, just stop. And that goes for when you board a train too. Congratulations, you’ve made it aboard some of TfL’s ancient, cramped, non-aircon’d rolling stock! Believe it or not, some of us behind you would like to do the same!

    Um, does it show that I commute daily via the London Underground?

  18. We have the problem here, but with sunbirds in cars. Two of them in tandem going 15 mph under the speed limit. We call it Canadian Roadblock.

  19. Won’t work. Tourists don’t know enough to read signs, and NY’ers just walk wherever we please.

  20. NY’ers need to quit bitching, they could be here in Florida dealing with all the NY tourists…

  21. For every anti-tourist comment on this blog, I’m going to form a 100-member strong flashmob somewhere on the streets of NYC to stand across sidewalks, walk as slow as we please and generally cause problems.


  22. You know where else we need this? Malls.

    When I go to a mall, I’m going there to buy something. I go into the mall, go to the store that has what I need, buy what I need and get the frak out of consumerist hell.

    But it seems that some people go to the mall for a STROLL. Five of them walk lazily, shoulder to shoulder, blocking my every move. Who the heck says, “Well honey, it’s a beautiful day outside. Let’s go for a walk at the shopping mall!”

  23. I think they should make another lane that would simulate the number of New Yorkers that would be in the unemployment line if it weren’t for tourist dollars.

  24. Sure, when on holiday in NYC I might’ve dawdled on occasion near a particularly nice sight, but when I actually wanted to /get somewhere/, I found NYC locals just as slow as I find them every where.

  25. I wonder if this is the same person who stencils “cliche photo” with feet and a direction arrow. I saw that one near the Empire State Building.

    My first thought was “what a dick”. Then I remembered most of the art I like is kind of dickish.

  26. I am torn between the sentiment of locals going somewhere on paths they know, and the inclination to slow down, admire the environment around me, smell the roses, etc. It you are a tourist coming up an escalator, with no previous experience, of course you might be stunned by the immensity of NY spread out in front of you, and not know where to go. To stop is not advisable, but understandable.

    When driving I have no sympathy on city streets for those wishing to speed while I drive safely, and enjoying the built environment; but do get impatient when people camp in the fast lane on the freeway.

    No one has mentioned the greatest ped hazard, the texting individual walking slow with head down.

  27. My observation of humans (mostly from the perspective of a bike rider, which is possibly analogous to a New York pedestrian) is that humans naturally occupy space as an instinctive hunting behaviour. If you are trying to hunt for your dinner it makes sense to find a bottleneck and block it.

    Another thing is that if you surprise people by warning them before you overtake they will scatter, to minimise the number who get eaten. Unfortunately this also increases the likelihood of a collision.

    I too have been a tourist in New York, but not in the current millennium. My wife is an architect and she loves the flatiron building. Our house is full of pictures of it.

  28. After years of working in Times Square, I can get the humor. Although a more telling bit of amusement comes from this

    We could solve all our problems if everybody, tourists and locals alike, paid a little bit more attention to their surroundings. It’s not “tourists” per se that I hate, it’s oblivious space vampires. Keep your senses awake and be aware of who’s around you. This is applicable for self-defense as well as a mitzvah for your neighbors.

  29. That’s funny, I always thought Americans are not welcome in other countries was because some of us think our way of life is superior than others…..a viewpoint which you demonstrated so perfectly.

    Congratulations, you have become what you loath.

  30. I live in midtown and am in a Broadway show. Actors in Broadway shows are members of the Actors Equity Association (it’s a union). When we are all trying to get to work in midtown we avoid the tourist congestion by walking in the bike lane — we now affectionately call it the Equity Lane.

  31. Tourist need to realize it’s called a side walk for a reason. It’s not a “side stand” or “side take up all available space”. If you don’t want to walk quickly in single file, move aside.

  32. Tourism may generate $s for NYC, but how many NYers travel elsewhere and generate $s for those communities? WIth athe largest metro population in the US, I am sure it exceeds the income generated here. And the jobs tourism generates are low wage, low skill jobs. Not sure we need those to attract more people/immigrants to a city already burden and bursting at the seam. If we could get rid of “annoying” tourists, not all tourists, I would gladly pay an additional $1.3k a year in taxes. It’s a drop in the bucket of what I pay anyway with little in return. At least that additional taxes would provide a benefit.

  33. How is a tour bus supposed to park and pick up out of state passengers without getting a parking ticket from New York’s finest? These people bring lots of money to the city.

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