Sidewalk Etiquette Consideration for others

Most sidewalks are built on the premise that two people can walk side-by-side, or two people can meet and pass each other without touching. Very few sidewalks that I have ever seen allow more than two people to walk in the same area without someone ending up not being on the sidewalk. And it might be the person next to the traffic. So if you live where there are sidewalks, or shop where they exist, you need to be aware of some basic “rules of the road” for sidewalk traffic.

First of all, bicycles are not supposed to be ridden on the sidewalk. Since they are a powered vehicle, even though the power is through the pedals, they need to be ridden on the street. And the rule is that they be ridden WITH the flow of traffic, not against it! Get a rear-view mirror and mount it so you can see traffic behind you. Some people think they need to ride facing the oncoming traffic (on the opposite side of the road or street than the direction they are traveling). However, if they are in an accident on the wrong side of the road, not only would they be the ones who should be ticketed, but they also will probably end up being hurt more than if they were riding with the traffic. So bicycles not only don’t belong on the sidewalk; they also belong in the lane heading the same direction they are going.

That said, other rules apply for walkers. Although you may walk in the center of the sidewalk when no one else is walking near you, you need to move to your right as soon as you get within 6-10 feet of a person walking toward you. That person also should move to his or her right. That gives both of you the space to pass each other without touching. However, if you know the other person, or wish to stop and talk to him or her for any reason, both of you need to move to the side of the walk that is farthest from the street. That way, others can go around you while you visit.

If two people are walking together, the one on the left side will need to move in front of or behind the other when they meet someone coming from the other direction. It is rude to stay side-by-side and make the other person go around. It is also dangerous.

Don’t throw paper, food, or gum on or near the sidewalk. Carry it until you come to the proper receptacle, and then dispose of it properly. Gum, especially, is irritating on the sidewalk (or in grass), because it sticks to your shoes and is hard to clean off. Candy can do the same thing. Food can make the sidewalk slippery and cause an accidental fall. So can paper, especially if the sidewalk is a little damp. So don’t throw anything on the sidewalk; any debris is an accident waiting to happen.

Don’t push, shove, run, skate, or dance on the sidewalk. I know, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers did it, but that was fictional, and controlled. We are talking about real life, here. All the afore-mentioned actions can be dangerous, and should not be indulged in, on the sidewalk! You or your best friend could be badly hurt, and you would have to live with that. So just don’t do it; don’t let someone else do it when you are around.

And don’t yell at people. No matter what, unless you can prevent an accident from happening by yelling, don’t yell! That takes people’s attention from what they are doing, and if it is a driver who is distracted by your yelling, it could cause an accident. So just don’t yell. Save that for the playground or gym.

Being polite and considerate of others is basically what you should do and be in all situations. Being polite and considerate of others is essential on the sidewalk. And being polite and considerate of others wins you friends and supporters. If you don’t want friends or supporters, then you aren’t going to be polite or considerate, no matter what the consequences are, because you really won’t care. But if you care, you will follow these rules, and people will probably enjoy your company. I hope you care, because I do, and most people do!