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Mayor Michael Bloomberg Weighs in on Fifth Avenue 'Tourist Lane'

By Ben Fractenberg | May 21, 2010 2:31pm | Updated on May 22, 2010 1:34pm
Pedestrians walk past sidewalk art on Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.
Pedestrians walk past sidewalk art on Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

FLATIRON — Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in Thursday on the faux Fifth Avenue tourist lane painted on a 22nd Street sidewalk, but appeared to miss the message behind the project.

"It certainly says something about our feeling for tourists. They’re willing to give up some space to the people that come here and support our industries...This is why you have a job and I have a job is because (of) tourists that come here and I thought it was very cute," Bloomberg said at a press conference on Thursday, the Daily News reported.

But most New Yorkers stopped on the street recently did not see the lanes as a welcome wagon rolled out for tourists — they interpreted the "tourist lane" painted on the sidewalk at 22nd Street and Fifth Avenue as a slow lane, with the lane for "New Yorkers" used as a passing lane.

“Tourists walk slower,” said Hannah Lee, 20, a Parsons art student. “New Yorkers could use an expressway.”

Hannah Taskovich, 19, who was visiting New York for the day from Long Island, said, she knew "how to walk in the city,” adding “I hate people who stop in the middle of the sidewalk."

Bloomberg was extremely displeased when a reporter at the press conference suggested that perhaps the lines had been painted because New Yorkers were annoyed by tourists.

“I’d be happy to introduce you to a lot of people who feed their families based on tourists, and if you want to talk to them I think you’ll find exactly the reverse," the mayor said. "I don’t remember hearing anybody really complain about tourists. They complain about noise on the tourist buses. We've done something about that. But you’ve got to be a pretty sick person to take it that way, I think.”