As the new year approaches there’s one thing I really hope has cropped up for the last time and won’t appear in 2016 – and that is pedestrian fast lanes.
We’re no stranger to the concept of pedestrian lanes — only last year the people of China took a satirical pedestrian ‘cellphone lane’ as serious; the lane was actually implemented to raise awareness, because of compulsive texters not paying attention when they were walking. It’s satiric purpose clearly wasn’t obvious to those of Belgium though, who this year introduced ‘Text Walking Lanes’ in earnest. Why have these lanes yet to be implemented on the streets of London? Surely because the last thing commuters (eyes glued to their phones) would be paying attention to, is if they were keeping to the confines of slow walking lanes.
But a pedestrian fast lane is a whole different story — surely?
That it is — that it is. It’s a subject which keeps on cropping up — in 2010, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas expressed that fast pedestrian lanes for London were essential — they weren’t deemed crucial enough to be implemented though. Like many an over-ambitious idea (to put it mildly) it landed in the pile of suspended (never going to happen) plans. It was followed with the proposal for the London SkyCycle — which was also abandoned.
But last month the Liverpudlians got us Londoners all talking about such a lane again. The SkyCycle’s never going to happen, so focus returned to getting around faster on ground.
My initial thoughts behind such a concept were we could finally speed around the city (as we do on tubes).
No one-minute delays — getting around could be entirely in our own hands — and a hell of a lot cheaper. No doubt we Londoners have all had this day-dream at some point during our daily commutes — we can never get around too fast — but, as with all daydreams, the reality has soon hit us along with our morning dose of caffeine, right? I hope so.
Sure, such an idea initially seems genius — finally the opportunity to speed to work on foot, around the shops, and literally everywhere around London!
Wasn’t fast walking invented by us Londoners?
It’s certainly what we do best, along with jumping on to the tubes — the idea of waiting 2 mins for a tube turns a good proportion of Londoners suicidal (preferring near death experiences, sandwiched between tube doors, to adding a couple of mins to their journey).
In London rushing around in a state of panic is the norm, and anyone looking laid back are labeled newbies, envied by the typical Londoner (evoking memories of the days when they were more chilled – something they parted with along with their sleep for all the amazing things the city offers).
You’re not a true Londoner if you’re not consistently rushed, or one of those commuters who like to exercise their athlete prowess on their daily commute.
To all you frequent rushed Londoners
No doubt you too initially thought finally you’d be free of those tourists cluttering up the pavement, who like to stop every other step they take and gaze upward at the London skyline. You breathed a sigh of relief — no more commuting stress, caused by forever being stuck behind those annoying ‘must make use of every mundane commuting moment types’ — Londoners who dawdle around eyes glued to their phone, iPad, book, newspaper. (*Cough* — yes — some of us would actually like to get home and read that book on the comfort of our sofas.)
To all you athletic/ fitness conscious Londoners
Finally, you thought you’d have the freedom to make that morning commute your work out. Your fast paced walk (basically running) could now be the norm — you could move at your own pace, not at your pace in 40 years time.
Yes the idea of pedestrian fast lanes all seemed rather brilliant to us Londoners, as we mused about it before our caffeine fixes, like sardines in a tin, squashed between other commuters on the tube, or trying to weave our way round the slow pavement snails. We were all seriously contemplating ditching our day jobs and becoming entrepreneurs. After all, there’s always going to be room for ideas that will get us Londoners around at a faster pace. But then the reality hit us in a shot — caffeine woke us up to the realities of such a concept — right?
Let’s just clear up once and for all why the pedestrian fast lane wouldn’t work in London (to avoid it cropping up again in the New Year) — there’s a reason why they trialed it in Liverpool first.
The pedestrian fast lane would become like the central lines in the morning — one would only brave it if one had to. The lane would be a stampede of commuters, each at high risk of getting trampled. I know we like to get places fast, but are we that desperate?!
The pedestrian fast lane would still be full of tourists, unknowing of this new method of getting around fast on foot. Their oblivion would be no different than you or I have witnessed many a time, when queuing for tubes or taking the escalator. The fast track, if even observed by the non-Londoner, would strike confusion, in the same vein as standing to the right of the escalators or queuing for tubes. Carnage would thus ensue — frustrated commuters would mercilessly mow down those that stopped to take in the sights; pedestrian rage would become an actual thing, and signs would have to be enforced.
How is one to define fast? Seriously? Everyone’s idea of fast would surely differentiate? Thus a pedestrian speed limit would have to be enforced. Can you imagine?! Yep — never going to happen. Without an enforced speed limit, the pavement would become like a swimming pool, divided into three lanes — slow, medium and fast.
Slow lane — avoided by us speedy commuters like Bank station. (We’re all looking forward to the improvements set to be made to this station in the New Year — albeit renovation is not set to be completed until 2021.)
Ambitious and proud types would avoid this lane; as would those ignorant of their own pace, of fear of becoming stuck behind the elderly or people with prams, exclaiming — “slow lane — Pa — I’m too fast for that!”.
Medium lane — the majority of commuters lane of choice.
Forever congested — the majority not wanting to take the slow lane, but not wanting to brave the fast lane either.
Fast Lane — risk at your own peril.
Full of marathon runners getting frustrated at the opportunists — who have switched lane due to medium lane congestion — right?
The only reason for wanting to see such an absurdity implemented would be to observe how it all kicks off! What do you city folk think? Any other absurd ideas for London which you’re hoping will not be put into effect in 2016? What do you want as Londoners? Tweet me@CamillaLaake #WhatLondonersWant
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