Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Footpath Etiquette

Like we drive in Australia, I so wish people would keep to the left when walking on the street. We drive on the left, walk on the left and on escalators, keep to the left. Oddly in the UK, they do all of the above except they keep right on the escalator. There must be an historical reason for that but on the face of it, weird! Thanks Pants for the info, ever so many years ago.

People in Melbourne do tend to keep to the left on footpaths. Only tend, mind you. There are no rules, and there are many who don't obey the unwritten law. Well, it is not even an unwritten law, as most people know about unwritten laws.

I forgive the ignorant, but not the selfish.

What about when you are walking along a narrow footpath, on your own, on a footpath two people wide? This happens ever so often to me in Prahran.  Do you step off the footpath onto the roadway and let the two people continue to walk side by side or do you force them to single file so you can pass on the footpath? I force them to single file. R steps onto the roadway.

This also happens to me at work, when I go out to get my lunch or whatever. People are walking astride. I don't allow them to force me to dodge them. They must bunch up.

I have really noticed people alone tend to get out of the way of a couple or a group of people when walking, and the sole persons should not.

As for blocking the whole footpath when in a group and chatting outside the restaurant after a nice dinner out, no. Let people past. As my grandmother used to say about Oakleigh when she returned from shopping, the damn Greeks and Eyeties standing around in groups and jabbering away and blocking the footpath.

If I remember to do it, I have a tried and true method of getting along a busy footpath. Find a person who is moving at the pace you want to walk, make sure they are broad of beam, and walk a couple of feet behind them. They are the ship's bow, breaking through the water, and you are just sucked along behind.

Any footpath etiquette to add? Are you an assertive walker or a step out of the way walker? Do you ever take much notice?

20 comments:

  1. I hate it in Flinders St, full of students and young people, when people come at you on both sides of the footpath.

    In serious middle age now, I cling to the far left hand side of the footpath next to the shop windows and don't budge. Young people have to move over to the correct side.

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    1. Hels, I know, in a confusing and disorganised mass.

      I think you should walk away from the windows when the windows are on your right, but I don't blame you for not doing so.

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  2. This issue - the lack of spatial awareness and consideration for others in public spaces - is a major pet hate of mine. I think I'm getting old.

    I'magree with you that if people are two abreast, they should walk single file. It's basic good manners, I think. I also adopt the approach of walking in someone's wake to move through a crowd. If I can find someone. I'm a very fast walker and usually leave most people in my wake. I have a strategy to stop myself from getting too cranky when my progress is impeded - I pretend I'm a formala one driver trying to pass competitors! "She jinks to the left, she jinks to the left - and she sneaks through to take the lead!*crowd roars*" It doesn't always work.

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    1. Jayne, that's it. Spatial awareness. I am not a really fast walker, but so often I am impeded by people walking in the same direction as I am spread across the footpath. People need to be aware if they are slow walkers or just strolling, then other people will want to get past them. Then there is the wanderer who even in the best F1 style, if you go right, so do they.

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  3. I step out of the way now, I 'm no longer in a hurry so I'm a bit of a stroller not a brisk walker like I was once but I don't like these motorised wheelchairs that have horns. We have a few around here they take up the whole footpath and their drivers blow the horn at you if you are in their way, they make no sound and you don't know that they are there till you get a blast of their horn it's a bit of a shock.
    Merle......

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    1. Merle, I haven't experienced a wheel chair blast, but they certainly drive too fast and carelessly at times.

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  4. Suburban footpaths aren't so bad, they're not wide enough of course and the trees every few yards make it worse, but they aren't crowded with people so strolling is possible and like Merle I step aside unless the other person has already stepped aside for me. City footpaths are the worst, people wander all over and it's near impossible to get through a crowd. As long as they are moving, then dodging and weaving is the way to go, but when there are knots of people standing still I'll say excuse me and barge on through. unless I can squeeze by on the outer.

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    1. River, yes, suburban footpaths are very different. I like that you barge through.

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  5. Rundle Mall is okay, people tend to walk on either side to be near the shops, but I'm usually headed somewhere specific so I charge on down the centre. Even in the rain.

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    1. River, we can do that in our Bourke Street Mall where there is no traffic, but we have to watch for trams.

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  6. I'm assertive, bordering on aggressive if I'm in a mood. I will exclaim 'excuse me' if women with prams are blocking the path (or the supermarket aisle) with a sickly sweet smile. Sometimes I've been known to use my big work shoulder bag thing as a barging device. People have no manners, why should I have to suffer?

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    1. Fen, you just reminded me of supermarkets. How often do want a particular item and there are people standing right in front of what you want, or examining an item that you want to examine. Not their fault, but I wish they would just bugger off.

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  7. I'm not a stand asider either -Andrew, but usually people are pretty good, same in the supermarket, an 'excuse me' works most times, BUT if anyone comes too close behind me and there's the threat of possible contact with my heels, there could be a possible warning 'look'. :)

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    1. Interesting diversion Grace, walking too close behind. I think I may have walked too close behind when going into on onto something where the person was being slow, not because of age or infirmity, just slow.

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    2. I live on a small, relatively sparsely populated island, and when we encounter others while walking, we're more likely to stop and chat. So when we find ourselves in what we refer to as 'Australia', especially in shopping malls, we suffer culture shock because of the different pace and what seems like the increasing level of rudeness and lack of consideration by people. I'd be inclined to say that this is a 'youth' thing, except that I've observed that it's across the board. Society just seems to be less aware of, and kind to, others than was once the case.

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    3. Fig, how interesting your island looks. I think if society is becoming ruder and less considerate, then it is a result of our ever increasing population, where individuals don't see others as individuals but an anonymous mass.

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  8. A certain etiquette is need with umbrellas on the footpath too

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    1. Indeed Ian. The taller person holds the umbrella higher and the shorter person holds theirs lower as they pass. And be aware of what an umbrella at face height can do to a face.

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  9. I'm with you all the way, Andrew. I just don't understand why people who drive on the left can't carry those rules over onto the footpath.

    I confess I'm an assertive pedestrian, doggedly keeping to the left and occasionally muttering at groups that spread themselves across the path.

    It just proves the adage that common sense is not very common.

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    1. Frank, I find I very naturally keep to left as that is how you operate when on the road. Perhaps right side walkers are the ones who sit in the right lane on a multi lane road. Btw, if you are still in the same place, yesterday I went past in the train and there was substantial playground equipment in the park. Was that always there?

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