Being a Pedestrian 101

I learned a lot in college. But one of the most important lessons I learned wasn’t in the classroom or at a frat party. It was on the sidewalks.

The campus on which I lived for the last four years was dominated by pedestrian foot traffic with a good chunk of bicyclers. I was aghast to find, as a freshman, that people lacked basic pedestrian politeness, so I’d like to share with you some tips on how not to be a jerkoff on the sidewalk.

1. Don’t Tailgate Me.

Just like when you’re driving a car too close to my back bumper, I get mad when you’re walking on my heels. I’m not going to start jogging because you think I walk too slow. Feel free to walk past me, but I’m not jumping off the sidewalk and into a mound of snow for you, buddy. Deal with it.

2. Don’t Text and Walk at the Same Time.

This could likely have its own posting, but here’s the heads up: don’t do it. You can’t see where you’re going so you oftentimes nearly crash right into me. Additionally, when I’m walking behind you, you’re going at a snail’s pace. Just make a phone call. It takes virtually the same amount of time, if not less, and requires about half the attention. (This means you’ll be able to walk and talk at the same time… I hope.)

Also, it’s worth adding, don’t iPad and walk. Yes, reader, don’t iPad and walk. Today I walked in the vicinity of a girl who was walking home while on her iPad blasting music for eight blocks. It was the most astounding, obnoxious, mind-bending sight I have ever had on my walk home. Not only did she appear drunk (she walked directly into a parked bicycle at one point), but it was so annoying to have to listen to her bad music and pass and re-pass her as she changed pace all the time. Bah!

3. Don’t Walk Three or Four Abreast.

My city has nice sidewalks, for the most part. A lot of them are pretty wide and accommodate a lot of people at once. But, listen. And I mean, really, please listen because I’m tired of knocking shoulders with your dumb ass: If I’m walking alone, and you’re walking with two or three of your buddies, it’s polite to move out of the way so I don’t have to jump into the snow/mud/into someone’s front yard to save myself from getting bulldozed by you. I stopped being polite and doing all that, so now you’re going to get bulldozed by my shoulder when you don’t move your ass. Seriously. Nothing about walking annoys me more than this. So just stop being such a jerk.

4. Don’t Sneak Up Behind Me, Bike!

“Excuse me” are two simple words that work a lot better than letting your bike click so I’ll know you’re there. You can even warn me, “Coming up on your right!” I would totally appreciate it, and make way for you. But remaining silent helps no one, so give me a heads up when you’re behind me so we can share the road. Sound good? Good.

5. Don’t Assume I Love Your Pet Furball

This last one seems pretty straightforward. If you’re out walking your dog, keep it in check. I generally am pretty happy to come across dogs while I’m walking, but when the owner allows the dog to cross into my path sniffing and forcing me to make an awkward dodge around a leash/slobber/an exciting hump session, I get mildly annoyed. Just keep your dog doin’ it’s doggy thing not in the path of every oncoming pedestrian. Additionally, don’t get mad when I give you the stink eye after you just left a steaming pile of dog shit on the sidewalk. You deserve every moment of that stink eye and more! You make me sick.

How you act as a pedestrian matters! The sidewalk is a public space. Remember that because of this, you share it.

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