Incompetent Pedestrians–I Thought They Were Only a Boston Problem

Walking is a form of mass transit. Use it wisely. I read that the phenomenon of visitors to cities who don’t realize that walking is a legitimate form of mass transit is not unique to Boston:

Now, I realize that most suburbs and exurbs are allergic to building sidewalks, and so the use of sidewalks is confusing and possibly disorienting to suburbanites. And I appreciate that some of them tackle the fact that they may have to walk from a quarter to a half a mile from their car to the stadium with a sense of adventure, similar to the kind that one might have when sky-diving or trying a strange new food. It’s nice to take out those expensive running shoes and see what they can really do, like taking your SUV off-road. But the rest of us use those sidewalks every day, and we have certain etiquette that we follow to demonstrate that we understand that the sidewalks are to be shared.

Yes, it’s surprising that traffic on the sidewalk is coming and going, which indicates that people using the sidewalks may not be going in the same direction as you. This isn’t like Disneyland, where everyone is doing the same thing and traffic runs in one direction. This means that people will be coming up the sidewalk and it’s only polite to share it with them. It’s much like driving, in fact—push off to the right, and they’ll generally do the same. Stopping and freaking out, or skittering off into 15 different directions is not necessary.
In general, assume at all times that the sidewalk is being used by people not you, who may have different purposes than you. This means that it’s never okay to have your party completely dominate the sidewalk… If your party of 3 people walking abreast is taking up so much room that I have to step out in the street to get around you, you’re being an asshole. [Intelligent Designer bless Amanda]
…Because you’re here to have fun and ambling along—which is great, you should do that—doesn’t mean that everyone else on the sidewalk is in your frame of mind. Some of us are running errands, and don’t like that you’re in our way. Yes, it’s legal to run errands like grocery shopping on foot.

I would argue Boston gets it worse in that many residential districts are also tourist destinations–they have cool stuff, so, surprisingly, people want to live there. Now, if Amanda would only take a crack at people who don’t know how to ride the T….

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13 Responses to Incompetent Pedestrians–I Thought They Were Only a Boston Problem

  1. NewEnglandBob says:

    The clueless pedestrian problem is everywhere. I do not walk around them in the street, I stop in my tracks and stare at them and force them to go around me.
    One of the worst places is at a ball park where people stand in a group, six people wide and block access to an aisle.

  2. benjdm says:

    If you’re going to use ‘incompetent’ in the post title, you really have to make sure you spell everything correctly. 🙂

  3. Tony P says:

    I’m a walker and I love that the city of Providence, RI is extremely walkable.
    But I frequently run into sidewalk blockers, etc. If it’s too much I’ll say “Excuse me…” as I push through the group.
    I’m told I’m a pretty aggressive pedestrian. Cars, people, doesn’t matter.

  4. stripey_cat says:

    I think some people are just selfish and oblivious: you get plenty who’ll block a supermarket aisle with two or three trolleys abreast because they’re together, or stopped to chat with a friend.

  5. abb3w says:

    Locally, I’m more irritated by pedestrians who seem to think that when there is a perfectly serviceable sidewalk going unused next to them, they should walk in the street with their backs to traffic.

  6. Nico says:

    I’ve lived in touristy cities that suffer greatly from this. However it was in a smaller city that if you did ask, “excuse me” to get past the three abreast, and the dawdlers, inevitably, people would huff and sigh.
    “Who does this person think they are, walking faster than us? Why are some people in SUCH a hurry!”
    I wish those people would understand some of us had places to be, and things to do!

  7. Edward says:

    Around here we have lots of good sidewalks, but many people insist on walking and jogging in the street. Then there is the “multi-use” trail in the park with clearly marked bike and pedestrian lanes. I use my bike on it regularly and nearly every time I encounter pedestrians in the bike lanes.

  8. Katherine says:

    Where do you people live that you get people walking on the road where there are footpaths O_o
    Very few people here know to keep left on footpaths, stairs and in corridors/aisles, so frequently I have to dodge multiple directions. I should grow a spine but I don’t want to end up walking into people 🙁 Though since I started looking more determined people at least don’t block the entire footpath when they are going the opposite way to me.

  9. rx1 says:

    Locally, I’m more irritated by pedestrians who seem to think that when there is a perfectly serviceable sidewalk going unused next to them, they should walk in the street with their backs to traffic.

  10. I frequently run into sidewalk blockers, etc. If it’s too much I’ll say “Excuse me…” as I push through the group.

  11. boy uzatma says:

    I’m more irritated by pedestrians who seem to think that when there is a perfectly serviceable sidewalk going unused next to them, they should walk in the street with their backs to traffic.

  12. acı çehre says:

    I wish those people would understand some of us had places to be, and things to do!

  13. Stacey C. says:

    I am *so* glad to read someone else expounding on this issue. It drives me NUTS! I live/work in *quaint Western MA towns* and walk/bus most everywhere. I am constantly dealing with people who walk two, three, four abreast and act like they can’t see me coming towards them or expect me to go around (students from the local colleges being especially clueless). I am an aggressive pedestrian, however, and will not give up my side of the sidewalk (but I’ll yield in spots where I’m on the side of the meters and there’s not enough room for two people). The rules should be the same as any form of road, trail, walkway. Two lanes! I’ve hit many a person with my left shoulder and I feel no remorse. Dammit, didn’t these people learn how to share in Kindergarten?

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