A Slow Lane For Tourists? : The Two-Way The sidewalks have gotten so jammed in London that local businesses want to create two zones on the sidewalk. One for slow moving tourists, the other for people who actually have to get somewhere.
NPR logo A Slow Lane For Tourists?

A Slow Lane For Tourists?

If you live in a city that is a magnet for tourists, New York, Washington D.C., Paris, London, you know how hard it can be to simply get around during tourist season. The sidewalks become jammed, people gazing at one thing or another, completely clueless that you actually have to get to work, and are not on vacation, and would really like just to walk a few blocks from train station to office.

Crowds of shoppers on London's Oxford Street jam the sidewalks. Stefan Rousseau/EMPPL PA Wire hide caption

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Stefan Rousseau/EMPPL PA Wire

Well, in London, one group has come up with an idea, give sidewalks a fast lane, reports the WSJ:

New West End Company, a group of 600 business owners in the district around Oxford Street, is planning to direct slow movers to walk in a "shopper lane" along store fronts, so that hurried residents and workers can proceed without opposition on the sidewalk's edges. The concept echoes a gag played in New York City last May, when pranksters laid a chalk line down a sidewalk on Manhattan's busy Fifth Avenue, with one lane reserved for "tourists" and another for "New Yorkers."

Lines wouldn't actually be placed on the sidewalk in London. Instead, maps given away at airports and hotels, as well as helpful uniformed guides, would guide people to the appropriate spot. While many in London remain unconvinced by the idea, as someone who marks the seasons by the tourist buses, I wholeheartedly approve.