The Pedestrian’s Guide to the USA

Here in States, you can tell a lot about a city by the way the people walk. If you don’t live here, you might think that walking is just walking, but I want to assure you that it isn’t. There are many different types of walking, and once you’ve traveled enough, you can start recognizing where someone is from just by watching their walk.

For example, I live in Atlanta. Here in the south, we are known for taking it easy and walking slowly. People here even stop in the middle of the sidewalk to chitchat. In some cities, if you did that your ass would get run over by a mob of fast walkers.

Let’s compare Atlanta to New York City. I visit that city a few times each year, and I call the people that live there professional walkers. When I’m there, I have to concentrate on my walking just to keep up. I don’t answer my phone or stop. I just walk, and I do it really quickly so I don’t look like a noob. If you stop in the middle of the sidewalk there, that’s grounds for getting knocked down. Those people are on a mission and they have no patience for slow pokes.

NYC sidewalks are managed just like roads. If you are slow, stay to the right. You pass on the left. You know the drill. And that’s not to even mention the skateboarders and people on rollerblades whizzing through the crowd. If you want to stop to see something, you gotta jump out of the stream of walkers. Walking in NYC is like playing Frogger in the ’80s, including the part about trying not to get smashed by a car.

Then there are cities I’ve been to on the west coast where people are so polite they just want to move out of the way for you. Cars stop way in advance just in case you are even considering crossing the street. Everyone is chipper and friendly, accommodating the walking styles of all with a smile. If you’ve never noticed the different ways to walk in other cities, start paying attention. It’s really fun! The walking styles in different cites are illustrated in this very cute infographic created by hipmunk. This is so funny, and accurate! So now the question is, what kind of walker are you?

Walking In American Cities

Header Image Credit: [Pan Xunbin / Shutterstock]