how to use a sidewalk


If you live in a city, you probably use a semi-crowded sidewalk on at least a semi-frequent basis. While most are familiar with basic traffic laws on the streets of our lovely cities, the sidewalks often transform into a scene reminiscent of the wild west. Shoulder bumps, trips, spilled coffees, ruined shoes, it’s a rough world out there. Here are a few guidelines that could help us all out (IMHO)…

TEXTERS – Previously limited to the tween through young professional demographic, this category now includes people from all walks of life. The one unifying trait: They are all attempting to text while walking. This perfectly acceptable, albeit hazardous and rude if you do not follow these guidelines:

  • In-motion phone usage should be accomplished in 1-2 second intervals, less if traffic is shoulder to shoulder.
  • Pace of step should be maintained at a relatively consistent rate.
  • Texts requiring longer attention spans or greatly reduced walking speed should be addressed at a standstill, on the side of the sidewalk.
  • Full explination and guidelines can be viewed HERE (thanks Casey Neistat of YouTube)

SHOPPING BAG HOLDERS – Shoppers who believe shopping trips should always include multiple stores, with multiple purchases, these fine souls brandish their finds with a blissfully unaware breadth of space-taking-up-ness. Again, it is perfectly acceptable to carry shopping bags on the sidewalk, just be self-aware: you have widened yourself by a few feet.

CLUSTERS – Groups of friends, fren-emies, co-workers, whatever the case may be, these sidewalk users are often susceptible to a sort of mob-mentality, that is, etiquette doesn’t apply to use because there is more of us than you. You’re wrong. Be polite, be aware, and get out the way. This can be accomplished by limiting the cluster to half the sidewalk width, so that people can pass by. This is extra important because, chances are, your cluster is likely moving at a reduced rate of speed. Don’t clog things up.

PAIRS – These sidewalk-users are one of the most common and often present themselves as two friends or a romantic couple that have a certain strong desire to remain by eachother’s side at all times. Wide sidewalks present relatively few challenges for pairs. Narrow sidewalks, however, turn a pair into the equivalent of a Cluster (see above). If approaching other sidewalk users, limit your space-taking-up-ness to half the sidewalk. This may require temporarily getting in single file. Suck it up. You can still hold hands if your sweetheart is behind you, besides, he/she probably wants to check out your ass anyway.

ANIMAL WALKERS – These walkers have special companions with them, usually of the four-legged variety. Animals are totally welcome on sidewalks! Just a few rules: Don’t let it sniff, lick, bite, jump, step, or rub on (etc) a passer by, unless that passer by asks it to do so. You never know who is deathly allergic to Fido, or just in a desperately animal hating mood. Also, clean up after them. For God’s sake. It’s sanitary, considerate, and the law (in most places).

BIKERS – Despite being users of a two-wheel vehicle, these are people who still feel the need to be on a walker’s surface. Bikes belong on the road. If you do chose to ride on the sidewalk for safety or other reasons, you better have fabulous balance, bike control, and awareness of your surroundings. Pedestrians should never feel the need to spring out of your way for fear of being run over. I have a scar on my scalp for the bike on sidewalk incident gone wrong, so perhaps I’m a bit biased, but seriously, just ride in the road. That’s what I do. See my previous post: HERE

SKATERS – See above. Be aware, and be in control of your wheels. Run-away skateboards are painful to innocent by-standers shins. Painful enough to provoke even the peace-loving yours truly to provide a stiff shoulder check in response.

RUNNERS – In full gear, headphones plugged, darting though the peds, these sidewalk users also need an extra dose of self-awareness. You’re working out! Good for you! Just keep your sweaty body from rubbing against me, please. If it’s not possible to do this, the sidewalk is officially too crowded for your workout. Besides, concrete is hard on the joints.

CRAWLERS – These are the walkers who, for whatever reason, are taking their sweet time. Hats off to you, my dears. It would be nice if we could all follow suit more often. The truth, however is that we can’t, and as a result, often need to get around you on the sidewalk. Please simply be aware that you are moving slow, and be open to the fact that people may need to skirt around you. This is easiest if you keep yourself towards one of the edges of the sidewalk.

May these guidelines help us all.

Always,  Alissa Jean

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