In the past, there were very strict rules of etiquette for walking. Today, a lot of those rules have been relaxed. Most major cities have such a large mix of classes, cultures, and fast-paced professionals, it’d be foolish to keep to the strict rules of the past. So, for this article we will discuss rules that are both modern and traditional as well as relevant.

  1. If possible, always walk on the sidewalk. First, jay walking is illegal in several countries. Second, sidewalks are made for pedestrians. Roads are made for drivers (minus areas designated for pedestrians to cross). Be considerate to drivers by walking where you are supposed to walk. Being considerate will help prevent accidents.
  2. Do not crowd people. That is aggressive behavior. Give people space to walk. You should never be close enough to step on someone’s heel. Ouch. If someone has blocked the sidewalk, don’t step into them aggressively. It’s best you walk around them. Avoid a yelling match at all cost.
  3. Do not start long, deep conversations on the street. When walking, conversations should be light – easy to end when the right moment comes.
  4. Do not block the sidewalk. If there are many people on the sidewalk, don’t stop to have a long conversation. Move onto the grass, to a nearby cafe, or better yet, don’t have a long conversation. It’s rude to block the sidewalk, especially when there’s a lot of traffic. It’s the equivalent of a couple of drivers stopping in the middle of the road to talk.
  5. Don’t suddenly stop while walking. If you’ve been walking at an even pace, don’t suddenly stop. The person behind you may not expect this and may walk right into you, hurting you and herself.
  6. Do not walk in between people who are talking. Walk around them. By walking between people, you are symbolically cutting their conversation.
  7. Do not argue on the street. No one wants to hear your problems or pick up your negative vibes. This rule also applies to cell phone conversations. Leave these conversations for the privacy of your home.
  8. Always walk your dog on a leash or in a carrier. Never allow your dog to run free. No matter how much you love your dog or how much you think your dog is adorable, it is guaranteed you will find someone who doesn’t. Also, most dogs have the habit of running up to or around strangers. This can lead to the stranger experiencing fear or traffic stopping on the sidewalk. So, don’t be inconsiderate. Keep your dog(s) contained while walking in public.
  9. Do not spit onto the sidewalk, grass, or road. This is the height of vulgarity. It is also unsanitary and unpleasant to watch.
  10. Do not cross the street until it is appropriate. Always cross the street when it is your legal turn to cross. Also, only cross if you have enough time. If you are not in a hurry for a meeting, it is best to wait for the next chance to cross instead of running.
  11. Give an elderly person the wall. When walking on the street, if you see an elderly person walking in front of you, give them the wall, that is the wall of the building you’re passing. This is a sign of respect and protection. You are putting yourself between them and on-coming cars.
  12. Only acknowledge acquaintances once when passing them on the street. If while walking you meet acquaintances unintentionally, you are only required to acknowledge them the first time, when passing. To do so each time after would be tiresome.
  13. Only use the right hand when raising your dress or skirt over your ankle. If you happen to be walking with a dress or skirt that is long enough to touch the ground or be splashed upon as you cross a puddle, you can gracefully raise it. This will help prevent slips and tumbles. To properly do this: hold together the folds of the gown or skirt. Pull the folds towards the right side. Then, raise it a little above your ankle. Don’t raise it high enough to see your knees. Don’t raise it on both side, with both hands, unless urgently necessary.
  14. Never monopolize the time of others on the street, especially your superiors, unless it is a planned meeting. You do not want to test their patience or take advantage of their propriety by taking too much of their time. Usually those walking on the street are in a hurry to get somewhere.
  15. When walking on the street with a friend and you come upon an acquaintance, acknowledge them with a bow, a nod, or graceful wave. Do not stop to speak or introduce your friend. Your friend may not want to be introduced, may want your attention alone, may only have time for conversation with you and not others. There are many reasons why it is preferable to keep walking. So, it is best you don’t stop unless your friend or the acquaintance stops you.
  16. Be considerate. That is the key rule. Be considerate of other pedestrians, drivers, people stepping out of cars, drivers parking, people walking of their homes. Have the courtesy to be present and aware in order to be considerate.