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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tourists in the city

NYC is always bustling with tourists, but I feel like there are two main times when it seems like you can't walk along a sidewalk without tripping on a tourist: Christmas time and early summer.

It can be fun to see these people wandering around the city, especially the early morning risers who get up and going before the rest of the tourists. Those early morning folks seem have the right idea. You get up and have a NYC style deli breakfast, or Starbucks, or your hotel's complementary breakfast, then you go do your self guided walking tour while the only people on the sidewalks are people in suits and skirts headed to work- in fact, if you time it right and leave your hotel either very early - around 730 am, or around 915, you might even miss all the business folks rushing to get to the office by 9. By the time you're getting hungry again, the other tourists are just rolling out of bed, bleary eyed from their late night of experiencing the city's night life. I bet Central Park is lovely early in the morning. Sometimes we walk by it, and the runners and dog walkers always seem to be having a good time (in nice weather, at least).

What I think is fun about all of the tourists, is the sense of wonder they have written all over their faces. I may not understand their language, but I can get the idea of WOW look at THAT! I like helping people take their vacation pictures- once I took a shot of a group of college aged kids - they wanted one picture of them in front of a hot dog stand, and one of them with a taxi behind them. They were having a blast, and helping them brightened my day.

Tourists can be annoying though. They don't quite get that sidewalks are our roads- which means you should most certainly not STOP in the middle of the sidewalk. This was a particular pet peeve of mine when it actually HURT to come to an abrupt stop or twist to avoid a person-on-person collision. Now it's just annoying.

Tourists also don't understand the jaywalking thing. Most people have it in their heads that NYers are blind to the pedestrian signals, and in the spirit of "when in Rome" they walk across the path of speeding taxis. Yes, locals jaywalk. But we do it with some sense, like our mamas taught us to. We look for oncoming cars before we cross (regardless of if the light says walk or not), we make sure we have time to get across, and we don't dart in front of moving vehicles (most of us don't, there are of course exceptions).

Some tourists don't mean to have a near death experience involving vehicles, they are simply so distracted by their friends or the surroundings that they walk out in front of vehicles. *shaking of my head*

Tourists can be a hoot to watch and help, but they can really clog up our arteries so to speak. One cool thing the city is doing to help cut down the congestion is to make some changes to the Times Square area and along Broadway. They're taking two of the vehicular four lanes out, and putting in more walking space. The idea is of course to limit traffic, but I think it will really cut down on the number of "I nearly died in NYC" stories and the "A NYC taxi ran over my leg" stories.

E and I have been excited to watch the progress up Broadway as we walk to work. They are nearly at Columbus Circle with their road work. The bike path is already all lined out, and a raised area is being built for pedestrian traffic. It's cool to watch the city at work.

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