Stay in your lane: Liverpool opens fast lanes for pedestrians

In the UK, almost half of shoppers support the introduction of fast-walking lanes on busy downtown sidewalks, study says.

Tina Fineberg/AP/File
Pedestrians fill the sidewalk on New York's 5th Ave in midtown Manhattan, March 12, 2001.

The English city of Liverpool is trying out dedicated fast lanes on sidewalks for speedy pedestrians.

The lines, marked with red paint and the label ‘fast track’, are designed to enable faster walkers to cruise without disruption of slower sidewalk users, be they texting, sightseeing, or just walking leisurely.

The lanes are open now in the St. Johns Street shopping area in downtown Liverpool, the Independent reports. It’s unclear whether the city has plans to create more lanes.

According to new research carried out by UK digital retailer Argos, 45 percent of Britons would welcome express lanes on sidewalks.

The idea of fast-walking lanes is, unsurprisingly, more popular with younger shoppers than the old. Sixty-nine percent of 16 to 24-year-olds favored the idea of fast lanes, compared to  just  37 percent of people over 55 who supported the plan.

While there have been some similar divided lines for walkers in other cities, this is the first time that speedy walkers are getting their own dedicated lanes. Earlier this year, text-while-walking lanes were spotted in Antwerp, Belgium, although they were soon revealed as a marketing stunt for a cellphone store.

Last fall, the Internet was agog with news of text-while-walking lanes in the Chinese city of Chongqing. The lane, which is dedicated to pedestrians who are glued on their phones, was rolled out in a theme park called Foreigner Street.

Large cities across the world have increasingly been investing in walkability.

According to Transport for London, Town Center Study, “people who walk to their local high streets, visit more often, spend more time and spend more money; contributing to the social vitality of the street and the economic viability of the shops and local services.”

In the US, studies have shown that walkable urban areas are wealthier, safer, and happier. Researchers at George Washington University recently said in a study that walkable urban places are the cities of the future. The team listed Washington D.C., New York City, and Boston as the top three most walkable cities.  

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