This post started out as an answer to a question on the Today show web site, but I realized as I started typing that I would not be able to get it out in 140 characters.
Here’s the question (pertaining to Kathie Lee and Hoda’s show): Do slow walkers make you angry?
They had a discussion on today’s show based on a Facebook group entitled something like “I wanna punch slow walkers in the back of the head.”
I found this discussion interesting, given that I spend some time on sidewalks while I’m running, and often dealing with other pedestrians can be just as difficult as dealing with things like cars who forget that people may actually be on the sidewalks.
Now, here’s the thing. I have no problem with people who walk slow. None at all. In fact, I’m happy when I’m out on a sidewalk and I see other people actually using it. Slow, fast, whatever.
What I don’t like is when people take up the entire sidewalk. Weaving back and forth, chatting on phones (which I don’t have a problem with unless they are not paying attention), walking their dog and having the dog take up the entire sidewalk.
The rules of the sidewalk are as follows: walk/run on the right, pass on the left.
Easy! Or, it should be.
But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run up behind someone who is walking slowly, taking up the entire width of the sidewalk, and I have to gauge how soon to call out “coming up on your left!” I need to be close enough that they’ll hear me, but not so close that I will startle them.
And when I do call it out, about half of the time they look irritated at me as I run around them. I’m sorry folks, but if you’re gonna take up 100% of the sidewalk, be prepared to deal with another pedestrian at some point during your walk!
Yesterday on my 12.5 mile run/walk, I encountered the following:
1 – person with a dog who was very considerate. I didn’t even have to call out to her because her dog turned to look at me when I was still fairly far back. She in turn got off the sidewalk completely with her dog to let me run by. This is how I handle it when I’m out with my dogs, too. Not everyone likes dogs and it’s nice of dog owners to recognize that.
2 – people with dogs who took up the entire sidewalk with the dog, and then proceeded to look frustrated at me as I ran by. One person was coming in the opposite direction, toward me, and she had plenty of time to get her dog out of the way and chose not to. I prayed her dog wasn’t an ankle biter and kept going. It worked out fine, but what if I were scared of dogs?
1 – Couple who was walking in the road as I ran behind them on the sidewalk. It just so happened that a car came right as I was near them, and they jumped from the road onto the sidewalk without looking at the sidewalk. They then realized I was there and had to jump into the grass to avoid colliding with me, as I jumped into the grass on the opposite side. That incident was fairly funny, but maybe they should look before they cross over!
2 or 3 – bikes on the sidewalk. One guy even had a tennis racket strapped to his back and I feared it would hit me in the head as he whizzed by me.
Several – cars pulling out too far and I had to run around them in the crosswalk. Other cars pulling right out without even looking at the sidewalk. Please remember – there is more than one kind of traffic!
As you can probably guess, this can make for a very frustrating run/walk. Unfortunately, I’m starting to get used to it. But if we could all have a little awareness of each other, then there would be room for everyone on the sidewalk – slow walkers, fast runners, and dogs! (But not bikes. Get your bike off the sidewalk, please.)