How about this weather we’ve been enjoying? It’s been so nice out lately, that more and more Kingstonians have headed outside for their daily dose of exercise. With the sun on my face and the wind at my back, my fitness regime has been totally reinvigorated by mother nature. But it’s not all personal bests and shin splints, as my recent foray outdoors has also reminded me that many people simply do not know, or otherwise care about proper sidewalk etiquette. Few things enrage me more than those who do not posses the common sense to share the sidewalk with others. With this in mind, today’s post will address some common scenarios as well as establish a few proper guidelines to enhance sidewalk etiquette in Kingston.
Stay to the Right, Pass on the Left: The foundation of sidewalk etiquette rests with the application of the basic rules of the road to the sidewalk. In other words, think of yourself as a car and the sidewalk as a road. Staying to the left would make perfect sense if you lived in Jamaica or merry old England, but since this is Canada, the rule of thumb is to travel on the right hand side. In situations where we need to pass another pedestrian, we should always wait for an appropriate opportunity, and do so on the left. Passing should be conducted with the same care and attention that we are expected to employ while driving on the road. That is to say, everyone should refrain from passing on the left if it is likely to result in a collision with oncoming traffic.
Two or More is a Crowd: Building on the aforementioned rule, walking side by side is also unacceptable when it puts you at risk of colliding with oncoming traffic. Kingston is home to many narrow sidewalks, which are only wide enough for two pedestrians. In such instances, groups travelling two or more abreast must collapse and proceed in single file. This goes for love birds walking hand in hand, parents with beginner walkers and everyone in between. In special circumstances where the sidewalk can accommodate two in one lane and one in the other, travelling two abreast is completely acceptable. These group guidelines can also be applied when confronted with dog walkers, baby strollers, shoppers who are overburdened with parcels, and so forth. Always remember to give ample room, and to be courteous.
Overcoming Obstacles: Last but not least is a bit of advice on how to overcome special obstacles. Whether you come across sandwich boards, dog poop, vomit, smelly garbage, oversized umbrellas, snow banks, lake-sized puddles, construction or fiery lava you simply have to remember to follow the basic rules of the road. If the obstruction is in your lane, you should wait until oncoming traffic is clear, and then proceed around safely. Those in the oncoming lane should be mindful of obstacles that are opposite to them, and slow for pedestrians who are trying to overcome them. It’s the courteous thing to do.
While these rules were created as a result of my recent experiences outdoors, they could be easily transferred to indoor environments such as the mall. Just so we’re clear, unfortunately rollerblades, skateboards and bikes should not normally be used on the sidewalk. There, I said it. And in case you need a refresher on the approved bike signals, please check out this post.
Special thanks to Chris Suderman for the photo accompanying today’s post.