inconsiderate walkers

Dec 5th, 2003, 04:31 AM
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I grew up in California and now live in North Florida. Growing up, I was taught to always move to the right in passing oncoming traffic, be it a sidewalk or a doorway. Everybody did it. Here in the south, they dodge all higglety piggelty and it becomes a social encounter. But I will admit I still go to the right and am confused when the oncomer does not.
janeg is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 05:13 AM
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Flanneruk - I wouldn't call it a rule, more of a social norm, if you know what I mean....
celticdreams is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 05:21 AM
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Hi celtic,

For some decades I have held the opinion that the British are what they are because they drive on the left side of the road, but walk on the right side of the sidewalk.
ira is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 05:27 AM
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I'm with PBT, it is especially tough in Midtown NY around the holidays. My favorite though is the time I was cruising through Times Square in the morning, and a group of about 4 tourists (from the south - I heard them speaking) stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to watch the guy change letters on a movie theater marquee!!!!!
LoriNY is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 05:28 AM
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Thanks flanneruk for including me in the fray~
I used the plural of phenomenon because 1-ekelly did
2-there are more phenomena in the world than slow walkers..
I would assume that most people who live in towns that don't have sidewalks or rarely walk, would notice all the different and maddening ways that humanity manages to irritate one in a day. In NYC-walking is a part of daily life, I am sure I have driven plenty of people mad with my wanderings coupled with a large friendly dog who must poke the reeeally intersting people with his big wet nose!
So I stick by my original reply-
you are lucky if this is the worse thing that happens to you in a day.
Scarlett is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 05:38 AM
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Gosh, this has turned into:
-A grammer lesson
-An instructional posting for keeping inner peace.

Let me make my observation in a different way. Suppose you are driving on a road that is quite narrow, and an you encounter an oncoming car. You steer your car way over to the right shoulder, to "make the road as wide as possible". The oncoming driver just steers straight thru, not moving an inch to his right, as if you were not there. (Oops, I used "thru" instead of through. I wonder if I will catch some flack for doing that).

I am not trying to start a fight with these other walkers, and I am not a "me-first" kind of guy, but perhaps I waken (or is it "awaken"?) them from their cluelessness. Maybe they realize that they need to help the situation a bit.
ekellyga is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 05:44 AM
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You won't get much sympathy here
Those of us who live in big cities, deal with this constantly, it is subliminal already!
I have a friend who lives in Germany, and she is often knocked aside, has to step off a sidewalk to make way for groups of people who would most likely walk over her than step aside.
I guess it is just what you are used to.
(is there a grammar check on Fodors?)
Scarlett is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 05:57 AM
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Scarlett, you forgot to put a period after your first sentence. Oh my!!
ekellyga is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 07:07 AM
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It's grammar, not grammer.

I have experienced bad sidewalk behavior many times in Germany, and in Greece where there were loads of German tourists, so perhaps it's a Teutonic thing. They seem to form brigades and march in a line that takes up the entire width of the widewalk, showing no concern for "oncoming traffic." In most cases the offending parties were far larger than I am, however, so I just toppled off the sidewalk and let them have their space.

As for the Brits, I've never figured out what the system of pedestrian traffic is in England. The drive on the right, yet don't seem at all consistent about which way they walk on the sidewalk or on staircases. It's a free for all. Very confusing.

Nonetheless, I've never let any of this detract in any way from enjoying my travels
StCirq is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 07:22 AM
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A general rule of travel - if you're concerned about behavior that might be regarded as inappropriate, watch what the locals do. I have repeatedly seen hurried pedestrians push (gently) their way through or around a wall of strollers throughout much of western Europe. The combination of narrow sidewalks and pedestrians with vastly different purposes for being on the sidewalk make this somewhat inevitable.

When I lived in Tokyo, I had to get used to the idea of pushing people out of the way. It is a routine part of life in densely populated cities. There are often "rules" that apply. For example, in Japan, it is acceptable to push or nudge someone, but you don't use your hands (use your shoulder or your upper arm instead) and you don't make eye contact.

I spooked a young Japanese guy shortly after I first arrived in Tokyo. Through no fault of his own, he was being forcefully pushed into me by the "gentlemen" in the white gloves that shove everyone into the subway cars so that the doors can be closed. This was one of those situations in which the passengers literally spill out of the car when the doors open at the next stop. This guy was crowding me so much that I thought I might have to hold my breath until the next stop. Almost without thought, I looked directly at him, put my hand on his shoulder and pushed him away. My Japanese traveling companion explained that pushing is OK, but no hands and no eyes. I think he was joking, but he suggested that I may have traumatized the guy for life.
smueller is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 07:50 AM
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Hmmm. And here I thought it was a "New Jersey thing." Anyway, I do NOT think this is a particularly European behavior, at least it's definitely not in Italy, and I don't think I noticed the French or the Greeks doing it either. What I did see very often among Italians was people simply stopping to chat in the middle of a narrow sidewalk, so I had to walk in the roadway to pass. It was only mildly annoying, though I guess it would've bothered me more if it had happened when I was wheeling my luggage to or from a train station. Generally, the only really rude street behavior that I saw--pushing people aside on the street, walking in front of people taking photos, tour groups completely blocking passage in narrow corridors or completely blocking anyone else's view of items displayed in museums--was by tourists speaking German. Maybe that's not considered rude in German culture. I've never been to Germany, so I can't comment about this in depth.
cmt is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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I agree this is not a European phenomenon. Here's what I have noticed in the U.S. If you make eye contact with people walking several abreast, they will play chicken with you and not make room for you to pass. If you continue walking without making eye contact, they will get the idea that you are going to bump into them if they don't move and they will get out of your way. It seems to work.
GaryCA is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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Funny that numerous postings have mentioned the Germans. This is where I encountered it the most. I lived there for a year, and have traveled in a lot of other western European countries, but really only noticed it in Germany.

I'm not talking about crowded sidewalks. I observed it very often during very uncrowded times, in big cities and small towns. Just weird, I thought. Darn Germans!!
ekellyga is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 08:05 AM
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Since I'm a smallish person, I've found this perfect tried-and-true technique for when a wall of bigger bodies approaches. I stop, put my hands out in front of me, and smile. They move around me with ease, as if I'm a post, and often I'll hear a few chuckles too. Works every time, and more importantly, keeps me from falling off the sidewalk into the traffic lane. I will agree, though,I have had to resort to this tactic a bit more in Germany and England. Can't figure that one out at all...
Dec 5th, 2003, 08:43 AM
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Interesting that so many posters mention Germany since I've heard about similar complaints from Americans before. As a result I watched the pedestrian zone a little bit closer and asked other Germans. I came to the conclusion that we Germans don't seem to have a problem with walking in German cities without bumping into each other. Somehow Americans and Germans seem to move differently.

Don't ask me about the difference since I can't say that there are any rules about walking in Germany. I mean, I just walk and don't bump into anyone else, so it's difficult for me to understand how it can be different.
Hans is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 08:49 AM
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I think when you live in a big city these sidewalk wars are so common you don't notice them. If you bump into someone, say sorry. No big deal.

I never have these problems when walking the dog, a German Shepherd. People clear a wide path, some literally jump out of the way. Of course she wouldn't hurt a fly, but she comes in handy that way!

I now respectfully submit this post to the Grammar Police
Kay_M is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 08:49 AM
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I am reminded of the other night, Christmas shopping with my husband in a large department store.
The area we were in was almost empty, but as a man walked past us, he bumped my husbands shoulder.
Maybe it has nothing to do with where you are or how crowded it is, perhaps it is some sort of problem some people have with Bumping into People!
Like I am a bumpee, they are bumpERS..
Scarlett is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 08:53 AM
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This happens here in NYC all the time. At first, I thought it was simply an issue of people from smaller towns and cities not being aware of how crowded NY is, but upon further review even NYers are guilty of this. Although the worst offenders are those looking or point cameras skyward, followed by the 3-4 abreast crowd.

I'm in favor of painting a yellow strip down the sidewalk, just like the roads, so people will understand the #1 rule about walking down the street: stay to the right.
Magnus is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 08:59 AM
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I don't think this applies to individuals, just groups of people. Our exchange student from Germany once remarked how hard it was for him to walk downtown with his new friends. He didn't want to "follow" someone within the group. He said if they walked side-by-side instead everyone could hear the conversation and no one would feel left out. (He obviously felt left out) Anyways, it seems to me that most teenagers here in the US travel in "clumps" instead of "walls". Maybe the walls are just a different way of keeping the converstions going while walking.
Dec 5th, 2003, 09:19 AM
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when I was i Prague Oct 2002 - a group of 6 young German girls were walking in a chorus line fashion with arms tightly locked - laughing and singing gleefully as people scampered out of their way. I kept my head on collision course with these girls, aiming for the center - it really was like playing chicken - sure enough just as we were about to collide two of the center girls unlocked arms and I passed through - afterwards they locked arms again, laughing gleefully and I admit, had to chuckle myself.
marktynernyc is offline  

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