It's Time for a (Walking) Reformation

Ok - I admit it. I'm a (bit) of a geek. I love efficiency, and statistics, and using data to influence decisions. It's one of the reasons I enjoy being part of the Quantified Self movement. I don't really expect everyone to enjoy these things in the way I do (although it would be pretty awesome) - however, there is one area of our lives that could, and would, be much easier and more enjoyable if we just created some basic principles for walking in the streets. You know the situation. There you are - happily walking along on the pavement (I prefer the left side) when suddenly a wild person uses 'in-the-way' and its super effective. There's a couple of ways this plays out;

a) You acknowledge that a collision is imminent and you move yourself out of the person's way

b) You acknowledge a collision is imminent but you stand your ground - its your pavement as much as theirs and you were there first

c) Both parties think a) or b), creating the 'walking dance' where you both move the same way to avoid each other all the while getting more in each others way

I always used to be an a) kind of guy, I don't want to be responsible for the entanglement of a collision - especially if the person walking towards me is a b). Although, just like with getting on the tube in London - the more you do it, the more resentful and grumpy you become. And so was true for me - after all my years of walking I have become the bitter, resentful, me-first version of b) - but to be honest, I don't really have a problem with this for one simple reason.

People are idiots.

I'm generalising (a little). I'll give some specific examples;

People With Pushchairs 

I fully appreciate that you've had a baby - and need that (massive) pushchair to transport said offspring around. Your right to do so does not give you the right to pretend I don't exist. I still inhibit physical space and, as such, ramming your pushchair into my leg does nothing to help you get through me - unless of course I've become some sort of ethereal spirit - in which case I whole heartedly apologise.

The Smartphone Addict

Nope. Your need to check email, tweet, or to check in ("LOOK AT THIS AWESOME PIECE OF PAVEMENT WHERE I AM - #OMG #YOLO") does not take precedence over my need to get to the extremely urgent place I'm going - like the newsagent. Although this one is annoying when they are so enthralled with their digital lives that they can't experience the physical and so get right in your way - I actually watched someone nearly get run over last week because they were glaring down at their phone as they walked into the middle of the road. The worst part of that story was the woman doing it had a pushchair with her and just seemed to be blithely pushing (presumably) her children into danger.

People Wearing Sunglasses

I like wearing sunglasses. They look good and do this other thing of blocking out the sun, which is cool. When its not sunny and you are wearing sunglasses I can not see your eyes. I can not tell which way you are going to walk. So we do the walking dance anyway.


Just because there is one of me and four of you doesn't mean I have to move. You could always break the line. Go two-by-two. It's was Noah's mantra and what God would want. So don't disobey God - break that line. This brings me on to...


I hate crowds. If I wanted to shuffle along to my destination I would have worn different shoes. In big crowds there are always people that think 'me-first' and just try and burst through the crowd going the wrong way. If you've ever been at Clapham Junction station during rush hour you know the feeling. Great big signs everywhere - 'KEEP LEFT' - there are even stairs to the platforms on both sides of the walkway so you need never break the code. Someone always does. I frequently want to trip that person up - but I'm nice and I resist the urge.

Those forward thinking people in charge of ferrying passengers around public transport are onto a great idea. Keep Left.

Seems sensible. Always keep left.

Escalators? Keep left. Pavements? Keep left. Ikea? Keep right (Silly Europeans).

Having a consistent way for 'traffic' is the only way to prevent this devastating and pressing problem. I get annoyed on an at leastweekly basis with people getting in my way - we should have to suffer no longer! Be the change you want to see!

Always. Keep. Left.

I'm not the only one who thinks this random walking doesn't make sense - see this enlightening Yahoo Answers thread (although I don't blame tourists - fully, anyway).

Perhaps the spaghetti walkers are using Isaiah 30:21 as a guide;

"Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it" whenever you turn to the right or left"

It works with driving - I'd say that having a specific orientation to drive in is probably better than spaghetti driving. In fact, thinking about it more, the vast majority of people would not ram someone who was driving near them in a car - so why do people bump into each other on the street? Want to use your smartphone while driving? Much easier when you drive on the one specific side so that no one gets in your way while you're not looking (I don't actually condone using your phone when driving).

We can be that change - follow the "Rule of the Pavement". Walk through your office on the left of the aisle; go shopping and only go up the aisle on the left - don't cross to the other side either (even if this does mean you walk almost twice the distance). If someone questions your mantra, your belief, you have every right to stop and say "I walk on the left for the benefit of mankind".

Let's make it happen. No longer will we be annoyed by people inconsiderately trying to get where they are going. Follow the rules and everyone will live long and prosper.

Oh, and if I catch you tweeting #walkontheleft while randomly meandering across the pavement - I will trip you up.

Currently Listening: Antony and the Johnsons - Crazy In Love

Currently Reading: How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big - Scott Adams

How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big