In what is quite possibly the best public awareness campaign I have ever seen, duck lanes have appeared in London, Birmingham, and Manchester in the UK. They've been incorporated into the towpaths running along the canals and waterways in those cities — and yes, they're exactly what you think they are: Like bike lanes… but for ducks. And given that ducks are one of the cutest animals in the world, well… you do the math.
Painted by towpath ranger Dick Vincent, the duck lanes are part of a campaign run by the
Canal and River Trust, an organization which cares for 2,000 miles of
waterways throughout England and Wales. Called “Share the Space,
Drop Your Pace,” the campaign encourages those who use the
waterways to “share the space considerately” by way of a “towpath
code.” In addition to sharing the space, “dropping your pace” —
that is, being ready to slow down when needed and seeking an
alternative route if you're in a hurry — attempts to make the
towpaths a pleasant place to be for everyone.
So why ducks? Because being mindful of the space doesn't just mean watching out for fellow humans; it means keeping an eye out for the wildlife that live along the waterways, as well. Said the Canal and River Trust in a statement on their website:
As the numbers of people using the nation's towpaths reaches record levels, we're calling for the reintroduction of old-fashioned manners to preserve the peace. Built at the time of the Industrial Revolution, towpaths are now busier than ever, with walkers, cyclist, boaters, anglers, and runners — not to mention the ducks and other creatures — all sharing the often narrow waterside paths.
As Quartz noted, it's unlikely that ducks will actually use the lanes; they're ducks, after all, and generally ducks don't understand or care about traffic laws. Even so, though, the lanes are less for the ducks than they are for us busy humans: Wrote Cassie Werber, “They're a visual reminder that we're all on this path together, and to get pedestrians, joggers, and cyclist to chill out and slow down.”
Alas, the duck lanes aren't permanent; according to the Huffington Post, they're a “temporary initiative.” But hey, if you live across the pond, go take a look at them while you can — even if there are no ducks actively using them, there's still something absolutely delightful about seeing a path delineated specifically for them. The duck lanes have been deployed in four spots in London spanning three different neighborhoods (Little Venice, Kings Cross, and east London); I'm not sure where they're located in Birmingham or Manchester, but if you find out, do let me know. Because you guys. DUCK LANES.
Images: Getty Images (6)