Stop sidewalk abuse with proper sidewalk etiquette

The biggest sidewalk hazards are neither the cracks in the pavement nor the gooey fat gum that sticks to our shoes. It’s the folks atop the sidewalks.

Proper sidewalk etiquette puts bikes in the street/Ryn Gargulinski

Proper sidewalk etiquette puts bikes in the street/Ryn Gargulinski

Thankfully Tucson’s sidewalks are not as clogged as those in say, Manhattan, but we do have our pockets of sidewalk abusers downtown, along Fourth Avenue and near parks or other facilities.

We’ve seen skateboarders come barreling at children – and adults – and bicyclists on sidewalks trekking so recklessly and fast they nearly knock us on our fannies.

Pedestrians that refuse to walk are another threat. These folks will stop in front of shop windows, fancy fences, a parked car – and just stand there.

Their stopping is best when it’s sudden and abrupt so we have a high chance of ramming into their backsides. Those who don’t want to walk should please sway out of the way.

Large groups that clog up the entire width of the sidewalk are one more major danger. These often consist of yelling pre-teens, distracted tourists and families of 16 with two strollers, four toddlers and a mom saddled with 32 shopping bags.

Now make the large group abruptly stop in front of a shop window, fancy fence or parked car and we’ve got ourselves the Hoover Dam. Damn.

We’ll give the rambling family some leeway, but we have to wonder if other sidewalk abusers are oblivious or just plain rude.

In either case, it would behoove them, and other sidewalk users, to play nice with some simple sidewalk etiquette rules.

We need to follow a certain sidewalk hierarchy if we all want to get along while we move along.

Piano sidewalk etiquette dictates pianos be off to the side/Ryn Gargulinski

Piano sidewalk etiquette dictates pianos be off to the side/Ryn Gargulinski

People who are simply walking on a sidewalk, of course, get top priority. Those that are walking quietly and at a steady pace are more deserving of the sidewalk than those weaving, yelling, belching or careening.

Top of the top priority heap include kids, women with children, little old ladies and anyone using a walker, wheelchair or cane. Be nice. Go around.

The second tier of sidewalk hierarchy consists of joggers, fast-paced and power walkers and the impatient. The second tier is expected to go around the first tier, but can expect those on lower tiers to go around them. We hope.

Dogs are in the murky middle area. If our dog is well-behaved and small, he has as much right on the sidewalk as any kid or little old lady.

Medium and large dogs have to be gauged by how much sidewalk room they take up and, more importantly, how they react to passers-by.

Let’s just say my two pretty beefy dogs – who like to lunge at anything moving – are steered into the street when we see anyone coming.

The dog stand-off happens when two people or more people walking dogs are about to confront each other on the sidewalk. Proper etiquette tells us the person with the larger or more obnoxious dogs should be the ones to move out of the way, leaving the sidewalk to those more civilized.

Fallen trees always get the right of way/Ryn Gargulinski

Fallen trees always get the right of way/Ryn Gargulinski

Like I said, my two beefy dogs and I usually end up moving into the street.

But we wouldn’t be too quick to move for those who are at the bottom of the sidewalk hierarchy.

Bicyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers are the bottom feeders.

The bottom feeders include anyone who takes up way too much room, is hazardous to others or is not supposed to be on the sidewalk in the first place.

Skateboarders and rollerbladers are technically allowed on the sidewalk, but they need to cede to the hierarchy if they want to retain any modicum of respect.

And unless you’re something like 5 years old, you and your bike are really supposed to be in the street.

Actually, when we run across such sidewalk abusers, the street can be a dandy place to be.


logoWhat do you think?

Are you a sidewalk hog or do you follow proper sidewalk etiquette?

What’s the rudest sidewalk behavior you’ve witnessed?

Were you ever knocked down on a sidewalk? Did you ever knock anyone else down?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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19 Responses to Stop sidewalk abuse with proper sidewalk etiquette

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Clever article! I’m happy to say that my hover-round and I never have any problems, we just plow into anyone unfortunate enough to impede our progress… 😉
    PS-clotheslining skateboarders is also great fun! Oops, sorry…

    • Jennatoolz says:

      Accidents happen, right Radmax? Hahahah 😉

      • radmax says:

        Jenna, yes they do. 🙂
        I was thinking about the mall when I made my comment, what a nightmare to get around some of these inconsiderate folks.
        Problem is, there are so damn many of ’em!

    • Rynski says:

      hiya radmax!
      thanks! it’s a fun topic and so very interesting to watch the hierarchy in action – esp. when there is a dog stand-off.
      i am SO glad to hear you found a way to get where you’re going. plowing through and into people will always get you where you”re going -hahahh, although it may leave some bruised shins and knees in the process.
      ahh the clothesline trick – do you know someone once rigged one between two trees that i nearly ran into? i wonder if i would have beheaded me.

      • radmax says:

        Rynski, evidently you don’t pay much attention to football terminology.
        😉 Clotheslining someone is putting your arm out about neck high to ‘clothesline’ the ball carrier(or some poor sap who isn’t paying enough attention) as they speed by and put ’em on their wallet, football style.

      • Rynski says:

        i thought it was attaching a clothesline between two objects so the person runs into the line and gets beheaded!

      • Rynski says:

        instead of an actual clothesline, of course, you use a thin, sharp yet still invisible wire that can slice through vertabrae.

      • radmax says:

        Ha! A woman after my own heart. Piano wire should do the trick… 😉

    • Ferraribubba says:

      Ever been down to the ocean-front sidewalk-bike path that runs from Redondo Beach to the Santa Monica Pier in the L.A. area?
      On weekends, it’s really crowded, and the rollerskate dancers, whiz through the crowd  with fists, elbows, and knees flying, knocking the unwary out of the way, doing about 30 mph backwards.
      I can’t tell you what a joy it is to see one of those inconsiderate bastards go sailing through the air, upside down, instead of some poor little 4 year-old kid after I set up my tip move.
      Usually the crowd cheers.  —  Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

      • Rynski says:

        never been to that path, but i’ve noted rollerbladers wreaking havoc along others. esp recall the path near verrazano-narrows bridge in brooklyn. what’s with rollerbladers and their need to hog/clog/disrupt/run over other folks on paths near water?
        cheering crowd on your move, for sure!
        oh! and note they are usually wearing headphones so they are totally oblivious to everyone’s screams as their toes are skated flat…

  2. Jennatoolz says:

    Heya Ryn! This can kind of be applied to people in a mall! No one seems to know which side of the mall to walk on, and then you get those “putt-putters” that walk incredbily slow in front of you. If you try to go around them, you get the “oncomers” coming straight at you, so you’re just stuck. Might as well stand in one place! Haha
    And yes, those pesky trees always get the right of way! Who do they think they are?! 😛

    • Rynski says:

      heya jeanna!
      ahh, the mall. that place is NOTORIOUS! for lack of walking observation/etitquette. supermarkets are, too.
      i am glad that both places added little kid cars to the mix to make for a much more interesting experience – hahah.
      maybe the mall should set up stopping lanes, kind of like bike lanes on the street, designated areas where people can stand off to the side when they want to stop abruptly? hahahah.
      and i agree – those dang fallen trees have no couth – just hogging the sidewalk as if they own the world! geeeesh!

  3. ado1 says:

    Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes . . .

  4. azmouse says:

    I’ve never really had a problem, or thought of it that way. I guess I figure everybody has the right to be on the sidewalk and if they are doing something I don’t like, then I need to figure out a way around it.

  5. tiponeill says:

    This is all a good thing – a sign of people actually walking and not going everywhere in their automobiles.
    The biggest problem I encounter is not being able to walk down many sidewalks without constantly ducking under overhanging branches – no one keeps them trimmed.
    In ac “car city” like Houston, when sidewalks actually exist they are often unusable – no one keeps them clear because no one walks.

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