Fast Versus Slow Walkers in New York City

How do you tell a New Yorker from a tourist? By their walking speed —At least, that’s how it used to be.

In a New York Times article 10 years ago, Clyde Haberman compiled tips for tourists wanting to blend in. “Lollygagging on the street […] is definitely the sign of someone who is in town for a short while,” he writes. “The idea of seeming not to know where you’re going is as repugnant to most New Yorkers as putting mayonnaise on a pastrami sandwich.”

But more recently, David G. Allan shows New Yorkers how to enjoy an all-day walk through the entire length of Manhattan, showing that this may be less about citizenship than about something else.

Whatever it is, a great divide stands between fast walkers and slow walkers in the City. Fast walkers say that slow walkers are inconsiderate for taking up sidewalk space and blocking pedestrian traffic while slow walkers argue that fast walkers are rude for bumping and swerving past people. Both arguments have their merit, but what is it that puts someone on one turf instead of the other?

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