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Private Sidewalk Startup Tests Market for NYC Elite

NEW YORK CITY – Have you ever wished for a fast-lane on a busy sidewalk for your morning commute, or maybe a wider, more luxurious lane to enjoy a weekend stroll? Now some New Yorkers can make these dreams a reality with Stryde, the pedestrian-technology (“PedTech”) startup backed by high-profile founders of Lyft, AirBnb and other venture capitalists aiming to extend the transportation revolution onto the very streets themselves.

“Stryde will establish a new standard for urban ambulation,” according to founder Jack Valentine, a former executive at Peloton. “We will provide the infrastructure to traverse our amazing city by foot without delay through an experience to delight every New Yorker who can afford it.” The velvet-roped lanes will feature a premium concrete foundation specifically designed for high-end footwear, so that even the wobbliest Louboutins can strut without worry of an errant subway grate or freshly dropped gum.

“The real benefit is the door-to-door distraction-free guarantee,” says Joanna Wasserman, a finance professional and early participant in Stryde’s pilot program. “Whether I’m on the phone conducting business or going to brunch with friends, I simply don’t have time for obstacles on the street,” referring to the other 1.6 million residents with whom she shares Manhattan, “or harassed by the vagrants outside of Blue Bottle.” Every walkway under the Stryde program will be completely free of the city’s homeless and indigent citizens, whom the company has graciously moved to the other side of the street.

With offerings for everyone, Mr. Valentine says that Stryde investors have backed a full network of velvet-roped sidewalk partitions spanning high-traffic lanes in Midtown. The initial routes will cover 14th and 57th Streets between 8th and 1st Avenues, connected by a through-way on the Avenue of the Americas, also known as 6th Avenue; select streets in SoHo and the West Village will be included in a weekend-only “Brunch Loop.” For those traveling in pairs, Stryde Groups offers double-shoulder-width lanes to “accommodate open-air interpersonal connections,” without interrupting conversation to walk single-file. For price-conscious consumers who do not wish to shell out the $5,000 annual membership fee, a freemium version is also available; enabled by ads, the Stryde Lyte service offers all the same features as Stryde, although members are constantly accosted by canvassers for Green Peace and The United Way.

Regardless of the plan customers choose, Mr. Valentine is confident that Stryde will provide, “a pedestrian experience that is everything but pedestrian.”

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