Dealing with slow people on the sidewalk, London edition

This is an issue I’ve always wondered about: what to do with slow walkers on public sidewalks? Of particular note are people who stop in the middle of the sidewalk to hold an impromptu conference while others try to get around them.

Apparently, this is a concern for others as well. Business owners on London’s Oxford Street have proposed a plan to have tourists and shoppers walk closer to buildings while those who want to get through the area, such as employees and residents, walk closer to the street:

Sidewalk rage may be closer to the point, and an alliance of local landlords and retailers believes it has an antidote. On behalf of London pedestrians who are sick of dodging Oxford Street’s tourist hordes and texting teens, they’re ready to draw the line. A pretend line, anyway.

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.”

But London’s line would likely be virtual. Under the plan being hatched by Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, chairman of New West End Company, maps available at airports, hotels and other traveler spots would tell visitors to cling to buildings. The directive would also be written onto local area maps outside subway stations and at busy intersections.

With little chance of enforcing such rules, how effective could this be? And could tourists and others mount a counter-campaign where they remind the people of Oxford Street how many dollars they bring into the tourist industry and local businesses? (This is unlikely considering the diffuse origins of the slow movers – but it would be interesting nonetheless.)

h/t The Infrastructurist

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