New York Sidewalk Etiquette

I hope this doesn’t turn into a rant, my main purpose is to educate all of you who don’t know the rules of the sidewalk, especially in cities (NYC in particular) where walking is a main mode of transportation.

I really don’t feel like enough people take sidewalk etiquette seriously. The New York Times wrote in 2002:

First, walking rules are like driving rules.

”Stay to the right is the golden, No. 1 rule,” said Chris Avila, 29, who has lived in the city for nine years.

Everyone in the USA drives on the right. Even if you don’t have a car or a drivers license you know this. KEEP RIGHT!

Further in the same article:

”People who stop short really get me,” said Carla Melman, 26, a lifelong New Yorker. She said it was the equivalent of a car wreck on the Long Island Expressway on a Hamptons weekend.

If you need to stop an collect your thoughts or what not, PULL OVER. The rest of us need to keep going! Listen, I need to stop and think on the sidewalk all the time. I pull over, looking over each shoulder first to make sure I’m not cutting others off.

In another piece in the NYT they extol the inconsiderateness of walking texters. Can you really cross a street, avoid other walkers AND text? 99% of you can’t. Pull over and text.

How serious is this problem with sidewalk etiquette? Wikipedia has an article on it. Yes. It’s that bad people. has an article about it. Their big irritation? Large groups of people making impenetrable walls. Break it up people! Especially you tourists who have no idea where you’re going!

Here’s a good article about etiquette for “considerate” New York tourists. They spell out the same things. A GOOD tourists learns how to blend in.

A few more:


I am certainly not alone in this. There are LOTS of articles from many different places on how to behave on the sidewalk- from car rental places to major news papers. The locals (generally) know the rules. I know SOME who clearly don’t. So lets recap:

  1. Walk on the right. Just like driving.
  2. Don’t stop suddenly. If you need to stop, pull over.
  3. Don’t text and walk and certainly don’t read a book (I’ve seen it!). Pull over.
  4. Keeps pets on a short leash
  5. No skateboards or bikes. If it’s 2am ok, maybe then.
  6. Break up groups. No walking 5 abreast just because you’re all together. Some of us want to pass you.
  7. Don’t step on heels.
  8. If you need to cross the path of oncoming walkers, look for a clearing. See #2.
  9. Don’t cut others off. Look to your sides before changing your position in the stream.
  10. Don’t wander all over the sidewalk randomly. See #1, #2 and #3.

There are probably hundreds of others we could add to the recap. Let me know what they are.

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