Posts from 8th November 2005

Nov 05

Stephen’s Walking Etiquette

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Like many bipedal mammals, I walk. It is an activity that I enjoy and at which, over the years, I have come to display a certain amount of skill—I can now, for example, walk up stairs or steep inclines, where before this required great effort. Even this most simplest of tasks poses some problems, though. Thus, I present PART ONE of a continuing series for the month of November, from me to you, and for all your walking needs:

Stephen’s Walking Etiquette

1. Where possible (cf. 2), on clogged or narrow streets, pick a speed—be it a slow dawdle or a brisk march—and stick to it. Constant, pointless, acceleration and deceleration will only a) add unnecessary time onto your journey, b) aggravate pedestrians behind you with full control of their walking speed or c) make you look like a drunken mentalist or the star of a “hidden camera” televisual programme a la Beadle’s About.

1b. If your walk requires the aid of certain props—a child in a pram for example or a shopping trolley leaden down the bags of old scrap—this rule applies tenfold.

2. Overtaking on foot is a perilous as overtaking in one of the new automobiles. This is especially true of walking at night. Often people will take offence to your overtaking them, the suggestion being that your overtaking implies a terrible breed of aggression on your part. A dilemma emerges.

Consider: it is late on a wet Wednesday night, you have missed the last bus and the street stretches ahead of you with just two other people on it. In order that you do not look like some sort of creepy stalker, keeping pace with the student/pensioner/drunk/ in front (P, for short), you have to speed up and overtake. This speeding up, however, will more often that not give P the impression that you are now going to put something sharp into their back and ask for their wallet.

Hence, our dilemma.

The solution here, rather than bellow “Fear not, late-night-pedestrian, I mean you NO HARM”, is to cross the street as necessary and overtake without fear on either part.