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The rules of sidewalk etiquette: avoiding the pavement tango
The rules of sidewalk etiquette: avoiding the pavement tango

By Prunella De Pedant

We’ve all been there: face to face with a stranger on the pavement (that’s sidewalk if you’re from the Americas). There’s a moment where these strangers try to be polite, but both just want to keep moving.And, the conundrum? Why, it’s who should surrender in this potentially public duel (and often uncomfortable dance), of course. The person that does naturally comes out as the more gallant one.

If you live in the United Kingdom, the basic rule is to stick to the left (think about the driving rules). This not only applies to walking on the pavement, but also in train stations, on the underground, or anywhere you could be walking head to head with oncoming human traffic.

It is lovelier to walk on the pavement, avoiding the pavement tango

It is lovelier to walk, avoiding the awkward pavement tango

If you live in the Americas or anywhere people drive on the right, then - er - stick to the right.

This is such a heated topic, that a website has been dedicated to sidewalk etiquette. The gentlewomen and gentlemen of this amusing and helpful Sidewalk Etiquette site have listed a few handy rules (albeit a touch aggressive at times, but we understand the passion of the topic). There’s even an area where people can vent. We find this feature particularly enjoyable.

Here are a few handy etiquette tips to consider:

1) Think driving rules, and stick to that side of the pavement — left in the UK or where people drive on the left, to the right in Europe and the Americas or where people drive on the right.

2) Avoid weaving — it’s dangerous for drivers and highly confusing for pedestrians.

3) Don’t stand or stop in the middle of the pavement - it disrupts the flow of traffic, and you may even encounter a hail of expletives during rush hour or busy times.

4) Hang on to dogs or animals. This tactic can avoid the shuffle and other unpleasant scenarios — some people are scared of animals and you don’t want to be the cause of some one jumping off the footpath
and under the wheels of an oncoming bus.

5) And a final note for pram-pushers: We are aware that you are transporting a most precious cargo, but don’t assume that gives you right of way and remember always to thank those who stand aside to let you pass.

Any more tips or quips? Please share and/or comment below.

(originially posted on April 20)

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Comments

“Think driving rules, and stick to that side of the pavement — left in the UK or where people drive on the left, to the right in Europe and the Americas or where people drive on the right.”

This can also apply to escalators.

  • LS
  • 13 Apr, 2010
  • 12:21 am
 

[...] Sidewalk etiquette: avoiding the pavement tango | Social graces. Redefined | MIEN Magazine [...]

  • A Study in Pavement (and Sidewalk) Etiquette « The Amateur Ethologist
  • 23 Aug, 2012
  • 9:52 am
 

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