The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
18 Points

Business people, workers should be provided with dedicated fast lanes on city pavements (sidewalks)

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/4/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,270 times Debate No: 13264
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




Not everybody is in a hurry to get from A to B. Many people such as tourists; drama students; tramps; housewives; the mentally retarded; prostitutes; the morbidly obese; the unemployed; Hare Krishna nutjobs; the elderly; pickpockets; chronic alcoholics; parasitic aristocrats and British Telecom engineers on emergency call-outs have no sense of urgency and seem to have all the time in the world to dawdle around the crowded city streets, aimlessly meandering from one side of the pavement to the other, and generally getting in other people's way.

Other folk, on the other hand, have to go out and work for a living and need to make swift progress through the streets in order to get to their workplaces or to meetings.

Now, because the average speed of the traffic major cities at rush hour can be less than 1mph, often the quickest way to cover short distances is on foot – and it would be quicker still if those selfish, thoughtless people who don't have anything better to do than drift hither and thither kept out of the fvcking way.

But they don't and what's why the pavements in London now have slow and fast lanes to segregate the tourists and shoppers, etc. from those people with better things to do with their time than loaf about the streets.

This is a superb idea – it should have been introduced years ago and I believe other cities with congested pavements such as Tokyo, New York and Hong Kong should adopt similar systems forthwith.

Thank you.


I negate the following resolution: Business people, workers should be provided with dedicated fast lanes on city pavements (sidewalks).

I interpret the resolution to mean on ALL city pavements. Otherwise, my opponent could win by just defending the Oxford Street project in London.

I define city as having a population over 100,000.

By this definition, there are 276 cities in the United States. [1]

I would like to begin by stipulating that I agree with the Oxford Street project in London, but disagree with the broader resolution for a number of reasons:

1. "Business people" is an unfair and arbitrary designation

A much better resolution would read: tourists should get slow lanes on tourist-heavy streets, which seems to be the intent of the Oxford Street project. Tourists would get slow lanes and local residents, who do not stop to sightsee, get a fast lane. My opponent, however, thinks that non-business people's time is not valuable. My opponent specifically says in his case that it is okay for a housewife to be stuck behind "the mentally retarded, tourists, the morbidly obese and tramps." Housewives do important work – they're raising the next generation of young people! So many marriages have come to an end because of this type of attitude – that housework/raising the kids is not "real work." The tourist/local resident distinction seems so much fairer than the businessperson/non-businessperson distinction. I doubt this policy would even work in the United States; it likely would not pass muster when challenged in the court system under non-discrimination laws. In addition, the policy is unfairly discriminatory against college students.

I'd like to note, ironically, that my opponent seems more concerned with prostitutes and pickpockets slow gait than with the broader issues involved with these two professions and their location on city streets. If there are criminals working on a street, the law's first priority should be to round them up. The law's second priority (or probably much lower even than second) should be to make sure everyone is walking in the correct lane, which brings us to enforcement.

2. Enforcement

If you watch the cited Youtube video, you'll notice that it takes two dedicated "city workers" to explain the new system to tourists and New Yorkers. [2] Tourists are by definition new to a city and its rules or customs, so they will need this explanation, even if the lines have been there for quite some time. Even if lines were on all city streets worldwide, non-urbanite tourists would still be unaware of the rules.

In addition, there will be a propensity to break the rules knowingly. Tourists, once done sightseeing, will want to pick up the pace and "act like locals," so they will enter the fast-lane, but still might walk slower than local norms. Housewives and college students will want to make use of the business-people's special lane as well and will need to be kept out. Police are already over-stretched doing other work. My friend in San Francisco recently reported to the police that someone broke into his car, from a parking lot with a camera, and still was told by the police that they were so busy with murders and other more serious offenses that they did not have time to do much investigating. Theft/drug offenses/murders/rapes etc will obviously take priority over enforcing sidewalk lanes.

On top of that, it's not even enforceable. Not all business-people have business cards, so it is hard to prove to a policeman that you are actually a business-person. If this is the enforcement mechanism, it's unfair to anyone whose business cannot afford business cards for him or her, especially the struggling self-employed entrepreneur (or writer).

My opponent's own Evening Standard article cites the infeasibility of the project as far as enforcement. "Locals welcomed the idea in principle but said they could not see how it would be enforced. . . . ‘In principle it seems like a good idea but in practice how would it be policed - would there be a central reservation?' Richard Huntington, director of strategy at advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, based in Charlotte Street, said: ‘A real dual carriage-way is governed by the Highway Code. It is a bit strange to think there could be a pedestrian Highway Code. It feels a bit like institutional wishful thinking to me.'"

And it's easier to enforce a law that many see as fair "this lane for non-tourists" than one people see as unfair "this lane for business-people only."

Once the norms of a society become to break a given rule, the rule might as well not exist. If you go to any major city in a country where the norm is to jaywalk, the pedestrian lights might as well not exist. The same would be true of the sidewalk lanes as soon as people realize they are unenforceable, which brings us to the issue of cost (why pay for the unenforceable).

3. Cost

The reason the Oxford Street project makes sense is its limited scope. It becomes enforceable because it takes fewer resources to enforce it in only one area. It becomes cost-effective because it is implemented only in areas where there is a great deal of both resident foot-traffic and tourist-foot traffic. Drawing lines on streets that see very few pedestrians makes little sense. These programs work when targeting specific streets only.

For example, the financial district in San Francisco does not see a whole lot of tourist traffic, since it is not a tourist hot spot, unlike the Wharf or Chinatown. Drawing lines there, when most streets are used solely by business-people, does not merit the cost.

San Jose is a city, but one where tourists rarely visit. It's downtown does not need pedestrian lines.

Even in major metropolitan tourist-trap cities, drawing lines in the residential areas is a waste of money.

4. Practical objection

Look at the picture of Oxford Street in the article my opponent cited. It's nearly twice the width of a typical city sidewalk. You'll notice something else: people are walking in two directions. Another challenge with sidewalk walking (and speed) is that people use each sidewalk as a two-way street. People typically walk on their right side, so there are no head on collisions. Narrow sidewalks do not allow 2 two-way traffic flows, one for the business-people lane and one for the non-business-people lane. There's simply not enough room for 4 lanes. Narrow streets will be slowed to a crawl when there are "traffic jams" between people going one way and people going the other, within each lane. Imagine getting stuck in a narrow doorway, as a visual. A doorway is approximately half the width of a typical city street.

This proves the Oxford Street project is unique in another way – sidewalk width.


A study published in The Age (Australia) found that people in urban areas are walking 10% faster than they were a decade ago. [3] The study finds that when we walk faster, it is because of the perception that we need to be in a hurry because we have something we desperately need to do. The attitude that we've adopted that forces us to walk faster and faster is killing us. Stress hormones are bad for the body in a number of ways, first and foremost in terms of causing heart disease. The same study "showed that people in fast-moving cities were less likely to help others, and had more heart disease than those in slower places." Saving three minutes a day by walking faster doesn't help if you shorten your life by 20 years with all the stress of constantly being in a hurry.


[2] Youtube, "improv everywhere the tourist lane"

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank bluesteel for accepting this debate and I would like to respond to his arguments as follows:

1 - Designation

First of all, I did state both business people and workers in the debate title but I concede that pedestrian fast lanes should not be exclusively for their use.

For example, if a tourist, housewife, student or parasitic aristocrat was able to keep up with the flow of pedestrians in the fast lane then nobody should object.

Similarly, just because someone is a businessperson or a worker should not automatically entitle them to use the fast lane.

For example, an investment banker may also be a chronic alcoholic and may have consumed an entire bottle of vodka on his train into town from the suburbs – he may be making his way from the railway station to his bank in a drunken stupor, staggering erratically down the pavement, occasionally stopping to vomit in shop doorways and urinate in bus shelters, and generally impeding the progress of other commuters.

By the same token, a secretary may supplement her salary by touting for business on her way to work, perhaps giving ad-hoc punters hand-jobs for cash in secluded alleyways or in the stairwells of car parks, and in the process of looking for more tricks to turn, seriously obstruct the fast lane.

Otherwise, a commuter may work as a fitness trainer in a city gym but might also be morbidly obese and not be capable of keeping pace with the pedestrians in the fast lane.

However, all these scenarios are a little unlikely, and it does tend to be people such as businessmen and workers that generally walk the fastest.

2, 3 - Enforcement and Cost

This scheme will be self-enforcing. If a tardy shopper, tourist etc. strays into the path of a businessperson trying to make decent headway to the office, the businessperson (and, if necessary, other legitimate fast-lane users) would simply push or throw, or use other physical means, to propel the offending member of the public back into the slow lane where they belong.

This shouldn't pose a problem from a legal point of view, by the way. My opponent mentioned jaywalkers and if a jaywalker suddenly walked out in front of your car you wouldn't be prosecuted for running him over (as you would if you knocked him down on a pedestrian crossing when the signal was "walk") because the jaywalker shouldn't have stepped out in front of your car in the first place.

Similarly, if you give a man a good kicking in the street – just for a bit of a laugh - you would likely be arrested and charged with assault, but you wouldn't if the aforementioned kicking took place in your own home after the ‘victim' had broken in with the intention to commit an act of theft or violence.

The same principle applies to people who are not entitled to walk in the fast lanes – if they get unceremoniously bundled to the ground and suffer cuts bruises as a result, they only have themselves to blame.

And ignorance of the law is no defence. For example, if a middle-aged Spanish man visited the United States and had sex with a thirteen year-old girl and was arrested and charged with statutory rape, he would not be acquitted on the basis that the age of consent in his native Spain is thirteen and he didn't realise that it was any different in America.

In terms of cost, the real beauty of this scheme, of course, is that it is cheap – just a one-off expense for some white paint and some workmen to apply it to the pavements.

4 - Practical Objection

It is true that some pavements are narrow – too narrow to accommodate four pedestrian lanes – and that the scheme cannot, therefore, be adopted everywhere.

Similarly, not all cities are busy enough to warrant such a scheme. Others, such as Dallas in Texas, don't even have sidewalks (pavements) outside the very centre of the city!

Nevertheless, where it is possible to introduce fast lanes, they will be of real benefit to delayed and harassed commuters.

My opponent mentioned that most people tend to walk on the right, by the way. That may be so in America but in Britain people walk (and drive) on the left. The reason for this is historical. In ancient times gentlemen carried swords and since most people are right-handed, the right arm was usually the sword arm. As a consequence, a gentleman walked or rode down the street on the left hand-side of the road so that if he spotted a fellow he didn't much care for approaching from the opposite direction, he could withdraw his sword from its scabbard and slash the foe as he passed.

5 - Slow down.

Oh, would that it were possible to slow down, would that it were! Unfortunately, in order to fund the free education of students, the generous government benefits given to all mothers, the welfare payments doled out to the unemployed, the free healthcare made available to tramps, prostitutes, the elderly, Hare Krishna nutjobs, telecom engineers, the morbidly obese, the mentally retarded and even parasitic aristocrats - some people have to go out and work to pay the taxes that pay for all these government handouts.

Now, given that in Central London almost half of men work over 48 hours per week, time with the family is very limited.

Do these men want to spend more time than necessary on top of these long working hours travelling to and from their workplaces? Or would they rather spend more precious time with their wives and children?

Of course, workers would rather be with their families than in human traffic jams and they should be helped to do so - business people and workers – the people that pay the taxes - should be provided with dedicated fast lanes on city pavements (sidewalks)

Thank you.


By his silence on the issue, my opponent agrees with my interpretation of the resolution that it should be read as "business people and workers should be provided with dedicated fast lanes on all city sidewalks," a city being any place with more than 100,000 residents.

In addition, remember my opponent as the instigator has the burden of proof on this topic. He should be forced to uphold his distinction of who is allowed in the fast lanes and who is not (business people are allowed, non-business people are not) and that the projects should be implemented on all city streets.

1. The Business Person/Non-Business Person Distinction

By saying that "I concede that pedestrian fast lanes should not be exclusively for their use," my opponent has conceded this debate. He got to draft the topic, and he chose this distinction. If the topic were "fast lanes should be provided for carpoolers on highways," then we would all think that non-carpoolers would be excluded from these lanes. The topic is inherently exclusionary, and thus my opponent has conceded the debate to me on the unfairness inherent in his business person/non-business person distinction because it unfairly discriminates against those that do not perform traditional "work," such as housewives and college students.

In addition, the fact that being a business person is not enough by itself to allow entry into the fast lane renders the law completely unenforceable, and it will result in mayhem. My opponent's enforcement mechanism is that business people may shove others out of the fast lane, but he also says that being drunk or morbidly obese are grounds for exclusion (even if you're a business person). As every business person takes the law into their own hands, this will result in chaos. People that are only slightly overweight will be shoved out of the lane, as will people who slow down slightly to smoke a cigarette while walking. Talking on a cell phone while walking could potentially be grounds for getting shoved out of the fast lane. Racial and gender stereotypes about some groups being faster than others might be grounds for being shoved out of the new pedestrian fast lanes. The combination of shoving and discrimination in exclusion from fast lanes could conflate to all out massive brawls occurring on city streets, which both endanger the public safety and counter-act my opponent's own mission of faster pedestrian traffic flows.

2. Enforcement

I hope I've already shown why shoving is a bad enforcement mechanism. Since the forcefulness of the shove cannot be regulated, it is dangerous. People might be injured while walking if they are shoved too hard and hit the pavement. The government would then be liable for this dangerous law, causing huge costs to arise from lawsuit damage awards; the large number of cases against governments would also flood court systems worldwide, bringing caseloads to a standstill.

My opponent says this law should not cause a problem legally, but shoving someone (in the United States) is defined as "assault and battery" and is illegal. Choosing to hit a jaywalker with your car is a prosecutable offense (you'll be let off only if you prove you "couldn't stop in time"). You'll end up in jail if the district attorney can show that you had ample time to stop but chose to run the jaywalker over anyway (because he or she "broke the law"), much as my opponent is saying that people should choose to unnecessarily shove each other on the streets, potentially risking bodily injury, simply because someone "broke the law" by entering the fast lane.

Burglar example:

Again, the law (somewhat ironically) protects burglars from the use of "unnecessary force" by homeowners. If a burglar breaks in and you point a shotgun at his face, then the burglar throws up his hands into the air and promises to either leave or sit still while you call the police, the law does not recognize your right to shoot him in the face at that point. Shooting an unarmed burglar in the United States is considered "unnecessary force" (as long as you know that her or she is unarmed), as is shooting a fleeing burglar in the back (since he or she is no longer a threat to you when fleeing). In addition, if someone punches you in the face during a fight, shooting that person in the stomach in response is not considered "self-defense," it is considered "the use of unnecessary force." Shoving someone who is in your fast lane is also using "unnecessary force."

The new cost to the legal system from my opponent's new enforcement mechanism is going to outweigh any benefits from the policy. In addition, my objection still stands to painting lanes on sidewalks where foot-traffic is moderate to non-existent. My opponent writes off labor costs, but if you ever get your car serviced, you'll know that even if parts are really cheap, labor costs are a major expense. People's time is valuable.

4. Practical objection

By stating that "the scheme cannot, therefore, be adopted everywhere," my opponent again concedes this debate. I think we all agree that at the very least he needs to prove that it should be done in all cities. By conceding that Dallas does not even have traditional sidewalks, my opponent concedes that the topic he drafted is not possible. I began this debate by saying that I agreed with the Oxford Street project but that I believed that my opponent had a greater burden of proof than simply proving that the Oxford Street project is a good idea. I consider "not all cities are busy enough to warrant such a scheme" another concession. Lastly, my opponent agrees that cities' whose sidewalks are too narrow should not implement "business people only" lanes. I believe that justifies a negation of the resolution.

5. Slow down

My opponent's original article for the Oxford Street project points out that many people will only save approximately three minutes during their commute, but supposedly that time adds up over a period of years. However, I cited a study (from The Age) that compares people in "fast-walking" cities to "slow-walking" cities and finds that heart disease is less prevalent among the "slow-walkers" because, although they share the same jobs and busy schedules as people in fast-walking cities, they do not let the stress of the job weigh upon their shoulders and force them to hurry up in every part of their non-work lives. People who view the commute as an opportunity to relax, think, breathe, listen to music, enjoy a nice walk, etc are going to be much less stressed than people who try to get to-and-from work as quickly as humanly possible. People who view their commute as "me time" instead of as "work time" are going to be less stressed and lead longer lives. Remember my analysis from before that shaving 3 minutes off your commute each day is not going to add up if you shorten your life by 20 years from added stress culminating in a heart attack.

For all of the above reasons, I believe my opponent has failed his burden of proof. He has failed to prove that the business person/non-business person distinction is fair. He fails to prove the policy is reasonably enforceable; in fact, he offers a dangerous and costly form of vigilante justice: each individual may shove people out of the fast lane who are deemed "too slow" by some subjective standard. This form of vigilante justice will result in fights and injuries, resulting in lawsuits. He fails to justify the cost of hiring laborers to draw the fast lanes on all city streets and the cost of potential lawsuits. And he fails to even justify the need to shave three minutes off the commute to work, instead of slowing down and enjoying a relaxing walk.

In our instant gratification culture, we can learn a great deal from Aesop's Fables: "slow and steady wins the race." Workers of the world: be Zen!

Debate Round No. 2
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
" British Telecom engineers on emergency call-outs "

I think you had him, there, Brian. :P Just like Ontario Hydroelectric employees or any Government official being paid by the hour. ; )

Nice video. lol
Posted by bluesteel 7 years ago
Lol. I'm just glad the morbidly obese are getting some exercise.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
I haven't forgotten this one, bluesteel, it's just I've been tied up with work but I will post tomorrow sometime - I'd have more time if I wasn't delayed getting to the work by housewives, tourists, drama students, the morbidly obese, etc. :)
Posted by m93samman 7 years ago
I like the idea so much, I always get on the grass to overtake people
Posted by J.Kenyon 7 years ago
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by KodyHarris 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by siriously 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:04 
Vote Placed by TallIndianKid 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07