Pedestrian Etiquette 101: How Not To Be A Jerk On The Sidewalk
Sometimes we're all just in our own little world out there, walking into people and other obstacles like one of those little silver pinballs on its way down. Life, it's deep stuff. But there are a few things you can do in order to not look like someone who thinks they are the only person that matters in this world—keeeeeep reading. For day four of National Etiquette Week, we're talking about pedestrian protocol.
KEEP TO THE RIGHT
Let's start simple. You know how when you drive a car in America, you keep your car in the right lane, and the oncoming car is to the left of you? This is exactly how it should work on sidewalks. Keep to the right! Remember when that Park Slope mom berated an elderly woman who told her "...there’s a rule. When you stand on the left, I have to deviate from my path and walk around you. The rule is, you’re supposed to stand on the right.”
The Park Slope mom replied, "I have lived in cities all over the world and I can tell from experience, THERE’S NO RULE.” To paraphrase a different gadfly, we don't care how people walk along the Seine: in New York City, you walk on the right.
What is worse than someone who screws up the entire sidewalk system by walking on the left? The people who come at you in a group and refuse to disband. Last year a Redditor noticed the phenomena, which was leading to frequent instances of sidewalk chicken:
"There will be 2-3 people walking side by side, taking up the entire width of the sidewalk. We'll be walking towards each other and, without fail, they won't 'shrink' to make room for anyone to pass. Is this a 'chicken' kind of thing? First person to move loses?" Groups, you MUST
DISBAND. Couples, unbreak the chain and give your hands a moment to de-clam (and yes, we take great pleasure in breaking you up).
BIKING ON THE SIDEWALK
This is not cool, man. Unless there's all cobblestone or no bike lane on a dangerous roadway, or you're a tragically hairy comedian, keep it on the street. Likewise, if you are a pedestrian, please look both ways before stepping into the bike lane, and if you see a bike as you're walking, juking doesn't help—just stay in a straight line and be predictable. (More bike etiquette here.)
CHILDREN & PETS
Puppies and babies are super cute, especially yours... but
please keep them both under control on the sidewalk. Keep dogs it on a tight leash, don't let them roam all over the place and start some Beethoven 2 shit that will trip fellow pedestrians or block the sidewalk for them completely.
And if you have children: keep an eye on them. Like, an actual eye on them—murmuring while you choose your Instagram filter as little Tennyson Jr's soft, gifted head gets ever closer to our swinging shopping bag does not count. Are they recklessly barreling down the sidewalk on a scooter running over toes and into people? Back in the Grimm days this was grounds for Pabulum Punishment. Stay alert—you asked for those sleepless nights.
While Texting Zombies have created some great YouTube hits throughout the years, running into one out of captivity is infuriating. They don't just walk into things and people, they also have an inconsistent pace which makes them infuriating to walk behind, like a drunk who's drunk on solipsism.
If you must text, slow your roll and find a spot out of the sidewalk traffic while you attend to what is surely a very important matter. When you are done, you may re-enter the sidewalk flow, and life in general. Don't make us bring out the professionals with leashes.
FOOD & GARBAGE
And finally, don't throw your garbage or your food on the sidewalk. Monsters.