Pedestrian Perils: 4 Rules For Preventing Sidewalk Rage

By Kenza Moller | Editorial, Urban Design

When I first moved to Ottawa, I learned that my house was just a few steps away from the Rideau Canal, a body of water that stretches 202 kilometres through the city. Shaded by trees and lined with a shared lane for bikers and pedestrians, the canal is an impressive green space for any city dwellers that – like me – need a healthy dose of nature.


“Yield To Pedestrians” Preventing Sidewalk Rage. Photo Credit: Cleber Mori.

Pedestrian Perils: 4 Rules For Preventing Sidewalk Rage

I began to use the canal pathways on a daily basis. I’d bike to work along it in the morning, and ran under its glowing lampposts for my evening jog. However, I quickly came to realize that with every city that offers up green, open spaces for its pedestrians comes the hidden price we must pay for it: dealing with other pedestrians.

Now, the pathway is a big strip of pavement – asphalt – with a yellow line down the middle. Shockingly similar to a road. You’d think that most people would realize the pretty straightforward rules: stick to the right, let faster people pass you, and try to enjoy it.

You would be incorrect.

From the stray old man wandering down the wrong side of the lane with five yippy poodles to the cluster of gossiping girls who travel in dense packs, it’s easy to get caught up in canal route frustration. For everyone’s sanity, I have devised a list of easy-to-follow rules for sidewalks:

  1. Everyone has their own walking speed, and that’s perfectly fine. However, if you are plodding along at the speed of a grazing cow, please move to the right and let those with hyperactive tendencies scoot by without feeling the urge to shoulder-check you.
  2. Rollerbladers are just scary individuals. These people are moving with the speed of a bike combined with the clumsiness of a human being, and you don’t want to be in their way. To propel themselves forwards, they have to make giant sweeps with their feet, which have the tendency to take you out if you are anywhere near them.
  3. If you are rollerblading, please coast while passing pedestrians – or I guess do what you want, because really, we’re all scared of you anyway. In car terms, rollerbladers are Hummers while the rest of us are lowly Priuses pitted against them at the intersection. The jerk in the Hummer might be the one breaking the law, but you’re the one who’d get crushed like a bug if you insisted on following the rules. Your choice.
  4. Don’t feed the wildlife. There are two very good reasons for this. First of all, it makes it difficult for wildlife to survive on their own. Second of all, it makes wildlife really, really annoying. Seagulls and geese have taken on the pushiness of telemarketers when it comes to jostling pedestrians, and neither pooping seagulls nor hissing geese are fun to deal with.

Thank you for reading – and with any luck, following – these three simple rules. Otherwise I may have to shoulder-check you the next time we meet on a sidewalk.

Feature Image Credit: Gerard’s World.

About The Author

Kenza Moller
Kenza Moller is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Vancouver. She contributes regularly to magazines and websites dedicated to travel, green living, and psychology. Visit her website at or tweet her @KenzaMoller.