E 23rd and 2nd

Seen on Facebook:

Seems like they’ve already got the stickers designed and printed for Peter Koo’s No Smoking While Walking ban.

Peter Koo is obviously just the front man for something that’s long been planned.

But it’s a kinda weird sticker. A walking cigarette? And why is it square rather than circular?

There could be any number of spoof variants of it. No Talking While Singing. No Dancing While Eating. No Being While Becoming. And so on.

New Yorkers might think of a few for themselves. And be ready with them when the No Smoking While Walking appear everywhere, so the spoof variants will start appearing too.

Perhaps they could even have a pre-emptive strike.

We seem to have become s roadsign-driven society over the past few decades.

Time was (and I can remember it), when there were hardly any road signs at all. There just be one or two that pointed to the next town or village. Most road junctions didn’t have road markings either, telling people where to stop. Most roads didn’t have white lines down the middle. Or yellow lines at the edges.

I wonder how people managed to drive at all back then, when there weren’t all these signs telling them what to do, and when to do it?

I suppose it was simply a natural evolution of road signs, that instead of just telling drivers what to do, they’d start telling pedestrians what to do too as well. Hence No Smoking While Walking.

What a wonderfully simple way of controlling people! Just put up a few signs in the streets! And people will obey them!

No Beards Between 2 pm And 3 pm.

No Talking While Singing.

Or nonsensical aphorisms:

A Snitch In Time Saves Nine.

Too Many Books Spoil The Froth.

Many Hands Make Lights Work.

Or poems:

Some say.
My own way.
Choose a date.
When’s the day?
Fried eggs.
That’s the way.

I think there’s maybe a point somewhere along the line, a break point, when people just start completely ignoring all the signs, because it’s all got too much

I used Google maps just now to drop down into a street view of New York City. And I was amazed to find a No Standing sign.  Looking west up E 23rd street on 2nd Avenue.

I guess that it means that you have to keep walking between 7 am and 10 am, and between 2 pm and 7 pm. But it’s okay to just stand around a bit between 10 am and 2 pm, or after 7 pm.

It kinda meshes in with the No Smoking While Walking thing, because if people can only smoke while they’re standing, then No Standing signs are effectively No Smoking signs as well. Or they strongly imply no smoking.

It was probably intended for drivers rather than people on the street. But how can you tell who a sign is supposed to be read by?

Or is it the direction a sign faces that sort of suggests who’s supposed to read it? So signs intended for drivers face along roads towards oncoming traffic. But signs intended for people crossing streets face across roads rather than along them.

Just a few yards away was another really weird sign. I think it was some sort of aphorism. But I couldn’t make out what it said, because it seemed to be written in bleeding, dripping letters that said something like Afraid And Dead. I guess that if you were crossing 2nd Avenue and you stopped to try to figure out what the scary sign meant, you’d find out when you got hit by a truck.

Both these signs faced across the street, on either side of what we Brits call a zebra crossing (but which New Yorkers probably call something else). So both are intended for people crossing the streets, or people on the other side of the street. They can’t be intended for drivers.

New York is already plastered in signs. Shop signs. Ad signs. Street signs. Graffiti signs. I’d guess that New Yorkers OD’ed on signs a long time ago, and they never notice any of them now.

Anyway yesterday I tweeted Councillor Peter Koo. He probably never saw it.  He probably didn’t see my comment on his Facebook page either.

Too bad.

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42 Responses to E 23rd and 2nd

  1. RdM says:

    Positively No Profanity Or Dancing

    I have an original of this, paper pasted onto hardboard by my Dad, an amusing item.

  2. RdM says:

    Next, of course, they’ll imagine themselves going

    No Smoking While Standing Still.

    • Rd, it is POSSIBLE that I am “misrembering” — but I really DO think that at some point I saw some regulation somewhere there insisted that smokers HAD TO WALK while smoking somewhere … that they’d get cited if they just stood leaning against a wall or sitting on the sidewalk etc.

      Anyone else have that memory?


  3. RdM says:

    No Being While Becoming

    That’s very deep… or is it?

    LSD, almost.

    But back to reality… what?

  4. Emily says:

    Where did you see that sticker? I’m having trouble finding any source online.

  5. Timothy Goodacre says:

    If the Yanks put up with this idiotic rule they are bonkers. I certainly wouldn’t.

  6. Rose says:

    Here it is again.

    ‘Non-smokers are more likely than smokers to develop mouth cancer if they show early warning signs’
    27 Mar 2018

    “New research has discovered that non-smokers face a substantially higher risk of developing mouth cancer than smokers if they have precancerous lesions in their mouth.

    The research from the University of British Columbia, published in Oral Oncology, looked at almost 450 patients with precancerous oral lesions and discovered that non-smokers were more than twice as likely to see them develop into mouth cancer than smokers.
    In some cases, non-smokers with lesions on the floor of the mouth were a staggering 38 times more likely to develop into cancer than in smokers.

    The researchers speculated that the difference between smokers and non-smokers was due to a difference in the root causes of the lesions. In smokers, they were likely the result of environmental factors, whereas in non-smokers, genetic susceptibility or mutations were the probable cause.”


    “Mouth cancer rates have increased by more than two thirds within the last two decades ….

    … and are predicted to continue increasing the coming years. It is therefore vital that everybody is alert to the signs, symptoms and causes of the disease.”

    What are we looking at here?

  7. Audrey Silk says:

    “I[t] was probably intended for drivers rather than people on the street.”

    Before the idea takes off into other corners as some valid point… which it won’t be…. All signs on such traffic poles are vehicle-related unless other specified with the word “pedestrian” (as in “pedestrian crossing”). “No standing” is the next step up from “No parking.” If a sign only says “No parking” then you can stop there for a minute or two to let people in/out, etc. But “No standing” means don’t even stop here. It’s been decades since I took the class to get my first driver’s license but I’m pretty sure how to read signs is part of the education. Nevertheless, there’s never been any confusion as to whether it means cars or people. Unless you were being facetious, people shouldn’t walk away from here with an argument in their gun that’s a dud. What I’ve quoted of yours at the start should be the last word.

    • Frank Davis says:

      We don’t have No Standing in the UK (yet). So my interpretation of it was the first thing that came to mind. It took me a while to figure out that it probably wasn;t intended for pedestrians, even though it was right next to a pedestrian crossing, and facing in their direction.

      But can it be true that all pole signs are vehicle-related, unless they include the word “pedestrian”? The red hand in the walk/don’t walk sign is clearly intended for pedestrians, but doesn’t mention them by name (as far as I can see).

      And if there are to be No Smoking While Walking signs on NYC’s streets, how are pedestrians to know whether they’re intended for them? Maybe drivers will think that they’re intended for them, if most street signs are for them? Does Peter Koo imagine that New Yorkers are going to start paying attention to street signs that they’ve never looked at before? Or are they going to include the word “pedestrian” somewhere?

      I’m fairly sure that if I ever visit NYC, I’ll probably be arrested in minutes: If nothing else I’m a compulsive jaywalker, and I’d probably get 10 years in Sing Sing just for that.

      Aside from that, I’ve sent two tweets and one email to Koo and his chums in City Council, under your direction. And I intend to send more.

      • Joe L. says:

        If nothing else I’m a compulsive jaywalker, and I’d probably get 10 years in Sing Sing just for that.

        I hope you have no plans of ever visiting China. From today’s news:

        China is using AI and facial recognition to fine jaywalkers via text

      • Audrey Silk says:

        Walk/Don’t Walk are not signs, they’re signals. Any pole with signs about parking regulations are just that — vehicle-related. Signs for other kinds of ordinances (e.g. “No Jaywalking”) are not attached to those poles. They would be placed elsewhere — and then not even everywhere (in fact, they’re fairly rare). No confusion reigns here about the parking pole’s signs’ intent. The only confusion is the mass number of parking regulations attached to one pole in certain places that it takes a degree to figure out exactly WHEN (or not) you can leave your car there.

        But anyway, it’s not something to get hung up on. Not every law in the land has to be posted. There are laws about blocking the sidewalk but no signs exist saying so.

        • Frank Davis says:

          So where are they going to put the No Smoking While Walking signs?

        • Audrey Silk says:

          Reread my last paragraph.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Well if there are no signs banning people from smoking while walking, how will anyone know?

        • Audrey Silk says:

          Having gotten caught up in the minutiae — framing the discussion around signs — I break out of this box to talk about the bigger picture this (and maybe you?) presents. I said it when they banned smoking on beaches and in parks — where indeed small signs hang on park fences along with all the other park rules — laws like these will sooner or later fade into obscurity. Either no on will know they exist (which is what these bans are for — self-enforcement, not police enforcement) and/or enforcement will evaporate. It eventually becomes nothing but words on paper. THAT’s the point, not signs.

        • Frank Davis says:

          It eventually becomes nothing but words on paper. THAT’s the point, not signs.

          Meaningless words on paper? Well, that’s possible. Maybe that’s what will happen. But I think it takes a long time for words to become meaningless.

          The other possibility is that, once the signs have done their job in explaining the new rules, the rules become internalised in the people who read them, and the signs are no longer needed. In the UK, Rose noted a few days back, the rules governing No Smoking signs have been relaxed. But everyone knows that there’s No Smoking indoors. They’ve internalised the law. And so even if the signs vanish, people will carry on obeying the law which has now become lodged in memory.

          In this respect, No Smoking While Walking becomes a further restriction that will also be internalised. And it makes for a world in which there can be no smoking indoors and outdoors. Which is of course the goal of Tobacco Control.

          Ignorantia juris non excusat

          I must say that, these days, when rules and regulations multiply exponentially, it always seems to me that ignorance of the law must become universal: nobody will know the law.

  8. Philip Neal says:

    Do you still have those signs “Don’t even think of parking here”?

  9. waltc says:

    Spoke to Audrey about What To Do. We agreed that both should be done–direct emails to –at this moment–the bill’s 5 sponsors, and in addition anything you can do on social media. Using their individual fb pages is tricky in that, except for Koo, there are no relevant posts to add a comment to and it’s not possible to post a new subject on their timelines. You can, however, add a comment to the thread on Koo’s page.

    Yes, there is indeed a school for the deaf on that corner, I used to pass it often, but the sign language sign which I don’t recall seeing, seems typically stupid since deaf people and their parents already know the school is there and nobody else can likely read sign language, let alone on a sign.

    These are the road signs I recall from the more civilized past:

    His cheek was rough
    His chick vamoosed.
    And now she won’t
    Come home to roost.
    Burma Shave.

    • Frank Davis says:

      We agreed that both should be done–direct emails to –at this moment–the bill’s 5 sponsors, and in addition anything you can do on social media.


      Names. Addresses. Photos. Email addresses. Twitter handles. Facebook pages.

      I want everything.

      And can you get hold of a copy of the bill?

      Beyond that, I read recently somewhere that there are just 50 or so councillors in NYC. Can we get their email addresses too?

      And who’s the mayor of NYC these days?

      And who used to be mayor? I can’t remember the name of the guy who was mayor during 9/11, but he’s still around, and was something of a Trump supporter (so I’m guessing he wasn’t a batshit crazy Dem.

      Take all roads.

  10. Pingback: Five Alive? Defo! – Library of Libraries

  11. Smoking Lamp says:


    Sorry for the jargon. “Tracker” refers to the “status of the bill as demonstrated by its “legislative history”. Here you can see the bill was introduced and referred to committee on 3/22/2018. Another version of a “tracker” is found here: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3458239&GUID=CF228683-8207-4FAE-801C-71ED2012A0A3&Options=ID|Text|&Search=0734-2018

    Here is a summary of the NYC legislative process (the dates for action are flexible and the Mayor can veto a bill (the veto can be overturned by 2/3 majority):

    There are a few ways in which legislation is enacted (“Local Law”) in New York City. The most typical way is through the City’s legislative body, the New York City Council. The following is an explanation of the process by which legislation is turned into law in NYC, and the Mayor’s role in the process:

    A bill (proposed legislation) is filed by a Council Member with the Council’s law clerk. If the Mayor wishes to put forth legislation for consideration, he/she must file it with the Speaker’s Office. The Speaker’s Office then assigns the bill a sponsor to bring the proposed local law before the Council.

    The bill is then introduced into the Council during a “Stated Meeting” and referred to the appropriate committee.

    A public hearing is held on the proposed legislation.

    After committee debate and public testimony, the bill may be amended.

    The committee meets to vote on the final version of the bill.

    If passed in committee, the bill is sent to the full Council for more debate and a final vote at a subsequent Stated Meeting.

    If passed by an affirmative vote by a majority of Council Members (at least 26 members) the bill is then sent to the Mayor, who also holds a public hearing.

    The Mayor then chooses to sign or veto (rejects) the bill.

    If the Mayor signs the bill, it immediately becomes a local law and is entered into the City’s Administrative Code.

    If the Mayor vetoes the bill, it is returned to the City Council, through the City Clerk, with the Mayor’s objections, at the next scheduled Stated Meeting.

    The Council then has 30 days to override the Mayoral veto.

    If the Council does re-pass the bill by a vote of two-thirds of all Council Members (at least 34), it is then considered adopted and becomes local law.

    • Audrey Silk says:

      Smoking Lamp, you’re doing a great job with legislative links, etc. One thing I’d like to add to the above process is that not every bill gets acted on. Many go into committee where they languish and eventually die for lack of enough support by the full council. There’s a decent chance that is what will happen to this one.

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