Bette’s Etiquette: Pedestrian Politesse- Part I
Hard to believe that it was only a short while ago the days were darker, colder and winter was casting its familiar hand on the nation’s landscape. Tylenol, toques and tedium were the order of the day. Now with the official start of summer (June 20) people are coming out of hibernation and embracing warm weather activities: cycling, weekends at the cottage, hanging out at the beach or pool and walking…everywhere. Without a doubt summer in the capital has a direct correlation on the number of strollers, amblers, joggers, and yes, even jaywalkers that converge in the downtown core and surrounding areas. That’s a lot of bipeds! Heck, we have been inside for months (well in all fairness last winter was not so bad) so now it’s time to go out and smell the fresh air and take a “ walk on the wild side” Well, walk anyway. Hence the topic for this instalment of Bette’s Etiquette Beat: Pedestrian Politesse.
Firstly, my intention in selecting this month’s topic is not to infer that extending courtesy to our foot travelling kin is more important than other citizens who choose to get around by car, public transport or bicycle. With constant reminders to minimize our carbon footprint, many are more likely to choose the greener mode of transport when tooling around town in warmer climes. As someone who recently moved to Centretown from Westboro, I count myself as one of the thousands who take to the streets every day on my own steam, so this is a topic that is especially close to my etiquette heart.
There is a very good reason that paved bit of concrete next to a street is called a sidewalk. It is for walking. Granted it can be for strolling, ambling, speed walking or even jogging, but please respect the sanctity of our roadway. It is true that all of us get caught up in the busy pace of life, and from time to time forget our “motion manners” when trying to get through the to- do list on limited time. Following are some all too sidewalk situations that I expect will illicit a lot of nodding heads and “oh yeah” utterances.
Scenario 1: The Sidewalk Shuffle
I am sure many of you have encountered this infraction of pedestrian politesse that I affectionately refer to as the SS or Sidewalk Shuffle. How many times have you found yourself walking around the city when you suddenly see other strollers (fellow walkers, dogs, even the occasional baby vehicle) coming towards you? Unfortunately the approaching flock have taken up the whole width of the sidewalk. Similarly when you spy a group of people who have congregated on the sidewalk and claimed it as their impromptu “smoking lounge”. The likelihood of a face to face meeting becomes more imminent with every passing second, so you quickly review your response strategies in your head: step off the sidewalk, continue boldly on your chosen path and hope that there will be a break in the gridlock so you can continue your pace uninterrupted or when both parties arrive at the same spot, you come to a halt and refuse to budge forcing a confrontation. In my opinion, none of these are viable or very pleasant options. The solution is really quite simple. For years we’ve heard the old adage share the road. Please share the sidewalk, too.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Bette’s Pedestrian Politesse, coming soon…