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May. 1st, 2015

From The Geography of Time, about the walking speeds in various cities around the world and how, surprisingly, New Yorkers weren't the fastest walkers:

Of course, straight-ahead speed may not be the single appropriate criterion for gauging the tempo of New Yorkers. One encounters a certain skill and assertiveness on the streets of New York that doesn't necessarily show up on a stopwatch. Whereas pedestrians in Tokyo are generally disciplined, meticulous, punctilious, and even docile, New Yorkers are a study in anarchy. Sociologist Williams Whyte, who spent much of his career observing pedestrian behavior in large cities, pointing out the intensity with which New Yorkers challenge each other, disrespect red lights, are "incorrigible jaywalkers," zigzag between cars and bully vehicles, as if to say, "Make way for me or kill me." [...] So what if they fall a few tenths of a second behind Tokyoites? Loyalists might argue that the real speed of New Yorker's resides in the nuances.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2015 09:47 am (UTC)
As a native New Yorker, I will certainly hold for my natal city being superior in all aspects. New York pedestrians certainly believe traffic lights and other such silly things are for motor vehicles, an attitude which sometimes gets me in trouble in other cities where they seem to think jaywalking is some sort of crime.

I do disagree that New Yorkers challenge each other as pedestrians (challenging cars is another matter). In fact, we don't challenge each other. We are actually very courteous in that respect; we seemingly ignore each other, but have a kind of automatic collision-avoidance system, flowing around each other seamlessly.
Jul. 23rd, 2015 12:31 am (UTC)
There is a certain aggressiveness needed to elbow one's way off a crowded subway car or through (heaven help us) Times Square, but as a general rule I would certainly agree.

My first day in New York, it took me about thirty minutes to get the hang of the jaywalking thing: since then it's been a constant struggle to remember it is NOT acceptable in most other cities!
Jul. 23rd, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC)
How long were you in NYC, and were do you live now? I'm a native New Yorker, but call Montreal home for the past 25 years.
Jul. 23rd, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC)
I've never lived there; just visited frequently, staying with friends and experiencing life as much as possible as the locals (in neighborhoods from Wall St. to 143rd!) I love the energy of the city!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )