Monday, August 22, 2011
A new walking code of conduct: 10 proposed rules for New York City sidewalks
All the attention to and fuss over bike lanes has obscured a bigger issue affecting the public rights of way, namely the use of our sidewalks.
Manhattan sidewalks have become so congested with tourists and locals (officials estimate a 13% increase since 2007, according to reports) that it has become increasingly difficult to rely on walking to get where you're going. Tourists, who often lack experience walking, do not realize that for us natives, this is a critical mode of transportation. We depend on it not just to stroll leisurely around, but to actually get from place to place. Also, some of us admittedly do not abide by simple rules of courtesy.
To remedy these problems, the following Pedestrian Code of Conduct is proposed:
No Zigzagging on the Sidewalk: $50 Fine.
We all know the "weaver" who meanders from one side to the other, cutting us off multiple times along the way. There is an exemption for the blind.
No Walking Three Abreast: $100 Fine per person, which doubles for each additional person.
What's more frustrating than being stuck behind a wall of people walking 2 miles per hour? Three people or more holding hands (even including a swinging child) doubles the fine.
No Standing in a Crosswalk Zone for More than One Light Cycle: $75 Fine.
Talk about really creating mayhem! It's okay to have to stop to get out a map, but don't do it in the walking lanes, and for heaven's sake, not in the crosswalk zone!
Failure to Maintain Minimum Speed of 3 mph: $50 Fine.
It only takes a few relaxed people to really impede flow on a busy sidewalk.
Failure to Stay Right: $50 Fine.
This issue is a particular problem for our English friends, who somehow think that staying left is the correct way to do things.
Walking a Dog with its Leash Running Perpendicular to the Sidewalk: $200 Fine.
Who hasn't experienced a dog-walker with one of those retractable leashes creating a trip line running right across the sidewalk in front of them? Dog-walkers must use a short leash on sidewalks and train the dog to heel - or at least to walk directly in front of them.
Failure to Stay in Designated Walking Lanes: $50 Fine.
Certain areas like Fifth Ave. are so crowded that lane striping is required (see diagram above). Pedestrians are required to stay in their lane and maintain minimum speed.
Tourists Not Permitted in Special New Yorker Only Lanes: $100 Fine.
In some parts of midtown, a high-speed passing lane needs to be created in the street to accommodate high-speed New Yorkers.
Window-Shopping Outside of Designated Window-Shopping Zones: $50 Fine.
Where there is continuous retail, special zones would be designated for window-shopping, which must be done within the zone.
Bumping into others while using electronic devices: $50 Fine.
Cell phone and BlackBerry use are permitted, but they are no excuse for not observing the above rules.
How will we enforce this code? Citizen's arrests are permitted by New York City residents, as the NYPD cannot possibly do it alone. The arresting citizen may waive the fine - provided that the offender submits to a five-minute lesson in proper walking techniques.