Imagine you’re driving down a country road and you come up behind someone in a VW microbus trying their very best to do 80 km/h. You would rather do 90 so, when there is a safe gap, you pass and head on down the highway. A couple minutes later you pull up to a red light and stop. A few moments later the microbus passes and parks right in front of you forcing you to pass him again. Imagine if you kept trying to get ahead of slow people and then every time you stopped they caught up and parked in front of you. Sound annoying at all?
We have rules in driving because when things go wrong people tend to die. There are no official rules for pedestrians however because the only consequence is annoyance. But does that mean that walking on the sidewalk should be a free-for-all? I submit that if people understood a few simple concepts and followed a few simple rules, we would all get to work on time. Here is my proposed guideline.
1. Walk on the right. Always. Period. Just walk on the right. (If you have trouble identifying the right side from the left, remember your left had will make an L shape when you hold it palm out with your thumb extended.)
2. Pass on the left. This one only works if everyone else is walking on the right. Think of the sidewalk like the highway. If the way is clear stay all the way over to the right. If you’re passing, pass the people who are on the far right on their left, thereby remaining on the right or middle of the sidewalk.
3. If traveling in a group, do not walk more than two abreast and stay to the right. Someone might want to pass you and will be unable if you’re taking up the whole sidewalk.
4. If you come to a red light and someone is already waiting, stand behind them. You may stand on their right if there is space but under no circumstances can you stand left of or in front of this person. If many people line up shoulder to shoulder in order to be the first ones into the street, and the people on the other side do the same, two walls of people must come crashing together. If you’re not sure what to do, refer to #1.
5. Escalators are supposed to expedite transitions between floors. You should walk on them. If you believe that escalators were designed because stairs are so challenging, stay to the right so that the rest of us can get past you, and consider joining a gym.
Well that’s my rough list. I really think that if everyone could get the first part the rest would fall into place. Tell me in the comments section: what about pedestrian travel gets your goat? What rules would you add? Or are you one of the aimless wanderers going every which way and slowing down the flow of things?