Yes, it’s surprising that traffic on the sidewalk is coming and going,
which indicates that people using the sidewalks may not be going in the
same direction as you. This isn’t like Disneyland, where everyone is
doing the same thing and traffic runs in one direction. This means
that people will be coming up the sidewalk and it’s only polite to
share it with them. It’s much like driving, in fact—push off to the
right, and they’ll generally do the same. Stopping and freaking out,
or skittering off into 15 different directions is not necessary.
I was talking about this at dinner with some friends on Saturday, in that in any new environment there’s some stuff that is going to be nerve-wracking for people. I remember moving to a far-out exurb after years in a college town, and discovering that it was incredibly dangerous to ride my bike on the streets there. I had every right to, blah blah blah, but it just wasn’t done. People there weren’t used to making room for bikes, which were usually confined to specific bike trails and routes to which you had to drive. My bike stayed in storage for the two years we lived there because we didn’t have a rack for the car and going against the local customs likely would have ended in serious annoyance of the populace if not injury or death.
But the only way I found that out was to attempt to ride to the store one day and get honked and yelled at. There isn’t a book to give you the rules, and I am sympathetic to the idea that man, you just don’t know walking into a place what way the trains run and how you’re supposed to give up your seats for older folks or people with packages or moms with little kids and just ignore the guy muttering to himself in the corner.
Which is why I think we need a Practice City, with a parking garage, train car, bus, crowded restaurant and escalators in order to give people some kind of orientation. Stopping at the bottom of the escalator or the moving sidewalk in the airport is a really good way to get yourself slammed into, like, it’s a conveyance disgorging people automaticallyregardless of if you shove over or not so shove over. And a parking garage, especially downtownwhere you will not find a space on the first eight floors so stop stalking everyone you see, is something I think ought to be put in the Illinois driver’s test.
We could reverse the scenario, too, and have Practice Small Town and Practice Farm Country so that the city mice don’t annoy the country mice by bitching about the tractors on the roads or the smell of fertilizer or the way everyone wants to smile at you and say hello all the time.