Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Rules of the Walk

In my presentations, sometimes, I mention that I am a rules stickler when it comes to the rules of the road. I've blogged several times about slow drivers in the fast lane and other errors other drivers make. I understood the logic and flow of traffic from the youngest of ages and was always excited to learn all the road signs (my #1 checked out book from the library at the age of 5? Pictures of street signs... honest!) so I could properly understand how all the chaotic madness is managed. However, from the earliest memories I have, I have believed that the rules of the road are also the rules of the walk.

So is there a rules of the walk? You know, perhaps on a sidewalk or a mall, or maybe even an airport. I know in America, when there are horizontal escalators (I don't know what else they're called... Ha! Talk about an oxymoron!) the flow is just like the road with movement to the right and a passing lane on the left. But does this carry over into the normal world? At a supermarket do people adhere to these rules, and if so is it because of the way the road works? Is this an unwritten rule people learn, or is it just a rule that I have transferred from the road?

Social rules are often a grey area and maybe I used the rules of the road to make sense of how I should walk in public because without rules I am fully lost. Of course, just as I get frustrated with slow drivers in the fast lane, I get highly annoyed when there is a person going counter-flow, or at least what I perceive is counter-flow, to the natural flow of the rules of the road. If, at a mall, someone is walking against the left hand wall that, in my mind, is a complete breach of everything I've ever known.

I do have a couple questions; do you follow the rules of the road when walking and... I hope someone has this answer, in countries where they drive on the wrong side of the road (I know, I know, those countries say that places like America drive on the wrong side of the road) does the natural flow of walking follow that way as well?


  1. Yes it seems the rules of the road would apply in everyday life like walking anywhere. But just as on the road everyone doesnt adhere to these rules. So the best answer I can give you is its about consideration and sometimes letting those in a rush pass you and go at your own pace, so your balance isnt thrown off by anyone elses rudeness.

  2. I agree with Amy. I've always tried to walk on the right and pass on the left when walking, inside or outside. And I work in a school and we try to teach walking on the right when classes change, but it's difficult to get everone to abide by this "rule". It is also a matter of paying attention to your surroundings. My son is autistic (20 yrs. old) and he often walks on the "wrong" side, or straight into other people coming the other direction. He knows right from left, but his mind is always focused on something else. In today's world, where so many people walk and talk, or text, on their cell phones, it's a matter of needing to pay attention, looking around you, and showing consideration for others.

  3. Like you, I prefer to apply the rules of the road to walking. I wish that more other people would do the same. Like Nancy W. above, my son (who is 5) seems oblivious about others when walking. I find myself constantly re-directing him when we are shopping because he has no regard for others or the fact that he is standing directly in front them as they walk toward him. I don't know how to teach him this, though I try. Interestingly, he also pays close attention to traffic rules and signs and has been my little backseat driver for a couple years already. Let's hope this someday translates to the "rules of the walk" for him.

  4. Having traveled the world with my husband I think that we here in the USA do tend to use the rules of the road in our daily lives. But as already mentioned, not everyone seems to adhere to these rules. And when traveling abroad, it would seem that no one adheres to these rules. I do find that in the countries we consider western, people are more apt to do this, but in other
    I feel like you do and wish people would be more aware of the order of things, but then I like order in my life.......nut I will move if someone comes at me from the "wrong" direction, but I may say something :)

  5. L live in the UK and the idea of choosing to pass on the left feels absolutely alien to me!