A Cure For Sidewalk Rage: London Considers Pedestrian Lanes to Improve Traffic Flow

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Crowds line the pavement in Oxford Street

Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

A virtual line has been drawn and London’s famous Oxford Street may never be the same again.

NewsFeed, which can never be said to enjoy the daily commute in London, welcomes the plan hatched by the New West End Company, a group of business owners in the area, who want slow movers (one may also refer to them as “tourists”) to use a “shopper lane” so that the workforce can make tracks on the edge of the sidewalk.

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Alas, the line looks like being a virtual one, with maps merely indicating the suggestion outside subway stations, airports, hotels and heavily populated parts of the Capital. Even sadder is that there won’t actually be the possibility to take action — traffic cameras and fines had been mooted — against those in the fast lane not walking, well, fast. That said, the New West End Company does intend to deploy an army of Red Caps to literally put visitors in their place. One such employee, Jeffrey Adams, told the Wall Street Journal that, “I see no problem in saying, ‘Excuse me, madam, it might be easier if you walked on the right.'” And if you re-read that sentence with a British accent, you’ll surely feel the full force of its impact.

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And while Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, took umbrage at the suggestion (“It’s quite a ludicrous idea— and completely unworkable and impractical. The idea that you can herd people along fast and slow lanes is nonsense”) there is precedent for the plan. Kind of. Earlier this year, Improv Everywhere created separate walking lanes for tourists and New Yorkers on a Fifth Avenue sidewalk. That was revealed to be a prank but some Londoners clearly don’t feel this is a laughing matter.