Walking Lessons for Tourists, From NYC’s 'Department of Pedestrian Etiquette'
How to be a better a tourist, according to a tongue-in-cheek public service announcement.
The New York City tradition of complaining about the way tourists walk exists not for the betterment of tourists, but for the small-talk needs of New Yorkers. That’s how it is in our world, at least. In a better one, the Department of Pedestrian Etiquette is busy issuing citations.
The memo from the totally made-up department was found on the front door of a building in the East Village on Monday, calling for mandatory training sessions for newcomers. Upon satisfactory completion of an oral exam, tourists would be given sidewalk navigation permits, revocable under a three-strike penalty system that would see repeat offenders banned from the city for five years.
What follows is the list of infractions, which are good rules of thumb for being a tourist pretty much anywhere:
- Blocking the sidewalk or any public area in a large group or just standing like an idiot in the middle of pedestrian traffic. Also referred to as ‘clumping.’
- Walking too slowly with more than one person spread across the sidewalk.
- Weaving from side to side, oblivious to busy New Yorkers trying to get the hell around you.
- Stopping abruptly without stepping off to the side.
- Sudden gestures or movements, for example: Sticking out your arm to point at something and thus smacking someone in the face who is trying to walk past. Hair flipping will also be prohibited.
- Blocking pedestrian traffic to stare up at Very Tall Buildings or to clump in a group to look at maps.
- Waiting for traffic light to turn green when the road is clear and thus blocking jay-walkers.
- Walking with your face in a map or mobile device.
- Walking with big rolly bags on narrow sidewalks or turning abruptly with a big fat back pack.
- Excessive arm swinging or bag swinging.
- Stopping like a deer in the headlights in front of a speeding bicycle.
- Stopping on a bike path with a big group to take pictures of squirrels.
- Not responding when a New York Resident tells you to "Stop Blocking the Sidewalk and Get the Hell Out of the Way! You Moron!!!"
To be sure, New Yorkers are probably worse than newcomers about walking around staring at their mobile devices, though they are less likely to be found taking pictures with an iPad. Also, though we could all benefit from a lesson or two in sidewalk etiquette--preferably as entertaining as these--coming across a group of foreigners photographing a squirrel is one of the distinct charms of this great city.