Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New York Street Scene: "Sidewalk? Whazzat for? Jaywalkin’? I never even hoid of it."

No question about it, New York is a pedestrian’s town. The tired gag that in New York, “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” signs are “recommendations” doesn’t even elicit a smile from most New Yorkers, just a weary nod of recognition.

Even so, West 32nd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues earns my cranky nomination for the Epicenter of the Jaywalking Universe.

On this block pedestrians don’t just challenge the right of way. They commandeer it, brazenly defying the little traffic that dares to try navigating that block – mostly an occasional errant taxi and city buses whose routes begin there.

Pedestrians don’t give a Bloomberg's Buzzard for oncoming vehicles. Do they feel impervious or are they merely oblivious? Who knows? But bus drivers have difficulty pulling away from the curb and taxis sometimes have difficulty threading their way through the throngs.

Admittedly, a lot of the people you see in this 23-second clip, recorded on June 30th, aren’t true New Yorkers. They’re suburban commuters, rushing from their offices to New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road trains that depart from Penn Station, just half a block up the street.

But even so, is this a New York scene, or what?

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