"Excuse me, ma'am; if you're gonna just stand, could you stand in the tourist lane? That's for slow people."
So said two orange-vested men posing as Department of Transportation workers on May 20th as they directed pedestrians into either the "tourist" or "New Yorker" lanes marked on the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue between 23rd and 22nd street.
The prank consisted of three orange-vested men spraying lines and markers onto the sidewalk using spray-on "Landscape Chalk." They remained on-scene for an hour afterward to "direct traffic."
The posted video shows the two men saying things like "You look like an artsy guy; you're definitely from New York City," and "If you're a tourist please stay in the left-hand side."
The best part is, they seemed to peg most people correctly. The pedestrian addressed above, who was indeed a tourist, responded "I walk pretty fast," but was told, "It doesn't matter. Statistically, you walk slow."
Another Improv Everywhere member, dressed in a business suit and armed with a clipboard, stood further down along the block and polled pedestrians for their response to the lanes, saying that the city planned to institute them on every block by the end of the summer.
"There's a lot of pedestrian accidents between tourists and New Yorkers," she 'informed' several people, as recorded on the video. "We're basically trying to figure out the best way to make everyone safe."
Unsurprisingly, many New Yorkers were in favor of 'tourist lanes.' One New Yorker even insisted on high-fiving the ersatz DOT workers.
The lanes stayed for four days afterward before the DOT removed them. Various blogs and news sites, including this one, picked up the story, which eventually reached mainstream media groups, and Improv Everywhere has only recently claimed responsibility.