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?