11 Unofficial Rules for Walking In Public


I can’t tell you the number of times I have almost been bowled over or hockey-checked against the walls with people barreling out from a side hallway or office directly into the main hallway of where I work.  It’s amazing.  To be honest, these folks walk like they drive on the highways around here – they do whatever they want to do without regard to rules, etiquette or just basic common sense.  Here I am just talking about WALKING in public.  The emphasis is on the word “public” which means there will probably be other people walking.  I know that’s a shocking concept to actually THINK of others but it is something which is seriously lacking and all you have to do is walk around downtown or an office building to see it.

So I have come up with 11 unofficial rules I have for walking in public:

  1. Be aware that there may be others walking around you!  In the world of billions of people, if you walk out into a public hallway or sidewalk there’s a good chance other people will be there too.  If you remember nothing else remember this #1 rule.
  2. Walk on the RIGHT side of the hall/sidewalk.  How hard is this?  Just do as you would driving.  I’m amazed at the people who seem to be confused by this and will try to play chicken with you or force you to move out of their way.  This is the same for entering and exiting stores.
  3. Don’t tailgate someone.  Keep at least a body length between you and the person in front of you.  If they are going too slow then go around them.  I have felt the breath of my neck several times and simply stepped over to let the tailgater pass by.  Hey buddy where’s the fire?
  4. No sudden stops.  If you have to stop suddenly, look behind you and make sure you aren’t about to take someone out.
  5. If you are stopping to have a conversation, move to the side so others can pass.  Look, I know it’s an important conversation or office gossip you are sharing but other people may want to get by.  It’s not that important to stop walking traffic for your conversation.
  6. When the elevator opens WAIT until people on the elevator exits BEFORE you enter.  Never assume the elevator is empty.  Always look before you jump onboard.
  7. When you approach a crosswalk, obey the appropriate signals to walk.  Getting hit by a car is going to hurt you regardless of who is at fault.
  8. When walking through a parking lot, it is YOUR responsibility to watch for cars.  You can see the cars better than the drivers can see you.  Don’t have one of these macho standoffs with a car.  Again, if you get hit it will hurt you more than the car.
  9. If you feel the need to light up a cigar, cigarette, vape or whatever – be mindful of people behind you.  My wife and I once were totally swallowed up by a cloud of smoke once when the people walking in front of us decided to light up.  Just turn your head around and look behind you.
  10. When you exit from a side office or hall way into a main hallway, YIELD to walkers who are already in the main hallway.  They don’t know you are going to shoot out of there like a missile.  Look both ways before entering.  How hard is that?
  11. Don’t text and walk.  People totally lose their minds when walking and trying to text at the same time.

I honestly don’t know where people learn their walking behaviors and it seems to be more common now in our “selfie” generation to people are in their own world instead of being cognizant that other people may be doing the exact same thing.

Walking with foot traffic isn’t complicated.   Just look where you are going.  Even if a hall or sidewalk is sparsely populated, it doesn’t mean you can cut around corners and charge headlong into them.    Pay attention to your surroundings and assume that there might be others walking too.

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