Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tourist Lanes - Jeff Greenspan

After Mayor Bloomberg gave his thumbs up on the idea of tourist lanes on New York City sidewalks, some Improv Everywhere performers decided to take to the streets to enforce the pedestrian penalties, making sure New Yorkers always have the right of way.

Dressing up as Department of Transportation workers, the team delegated the titles to passerbys and directed them to the appropriate lane. Tourists could now feel free to stop mid-stride in order to consult their map, window shop, or take a snapshot of their vacation outside a Starbucks.

They even went so far as to poll those test subjects for this experiment and most of the responses were in favor of citizen seperation. The video below shows Improv Everywhere, the notorious public assembly pranksters, as they show us the New Yorker's dream come true.

This idea may've been floating in the minds of many of the minds day in and day out, especially for those of us who've worked in Times Square, but it was one concerned citizen by the name of Jeff Greenspan that took to the streets to do something about it.

As a native New Yorker, Jeff knows about crowded sidewalks, whether it's in Park Slope where he was born, or in the East Village where he's lived for the last several years.

The neighborhood that was once a bohemian jungle is now the victim of capitalism and tourism dollars. Fancy boutiques and upscale restaurants tucked on old neighborhood blocks draw the out-of-towners.

So Jeff took his idea, bought a toy linemaker (later replacing it with a wheeled field marker) and a can of spray chalk, with two stencils he ordered online: NEW YORKERS & TOURISTS.

Having kicked off his idea that was part street art and part suggesting statement on Rivington in the Lower East Side (across from trendy restaurant Schiller's), he then took off for Elizabeth Street, East 3rd, and Houston, usually doing his work at 1am.

The statement got noticed and began circulating around blogs such as Gothamist, to the pages of the Daily News, to CNN online, with mentions on NY1, the Times and on the Wall Street Journal's site, the Huffington Post and Boing Boing. It was going viral.

With the first images of tourist lanes going international, Barcelona joining in on the friendly suggestion, the idea is still growing. A concept that Jeff fully embraces.

"Not only do I want to encourage others to go and draw their own lanes (in removable landscape chalk) I also want to set up a website where people can request a lane on their block."

Jeff would rather this be seen as a helpful service though, rather than a cynical statement. If Bloomberg would issue permits he'd gladly take to the busy sidewalks and draw a line in the sand.

Duffel bag, security, intent to clean.
Tourist manners, learn the language, learn the flow.
DOT apology.
PIT theatre. Bush Booth, Chicken vs Egg.
Banksy. Walkright.
Shepherd Fairey.

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