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Know your sidewalk etiquette

STRUTTING THE STREETS of Ottawa the past few months has led me to a new, profound realization: People do not know how to use sidewalks. Every day there are more and more perpetrators bumping into each other, refusing to keep with the pace of traffic, and generally existing completely oblivious of their surroundings. Students, you can become better sidewalkers if you just learn to follow a few simple guidelines to strutting your stuff on the streets.
The group phenomenon
If you’re in a group and there’s a person walking toward you, please don’t block the sidewalk. You’re all grown up and don’t need to walk with your arms linked together. There’s really no need for that poor individual to have to fly out onto the street just so you don’t collide.

The emergency stop
If you’re walking and decide to stop somewhere, move away from the centre of the walkway. It’s for people who want to walk and, on a university campus, are likely in a hurry to get to class. Your abrupt stop can and will cause a chain reaction of minor collisions and crushed toes, so step aside and make your difficult decision elsewhere.

The right direction
This rule, gleaned from Canadian traffic law, is tried, tested, and true. It involves sticking to the right side and allowing passing traffic to move on your left. Don’t switch lanes or make turns without shoulder-checking first. You wouldn’t do it while driving, so why do it while walking? Following this rule makes it far easier to get from A to B than doing a dance in the middle of the street with some person trying to get past you.

Put the phone down
While we’re on the subject of driving, pedestrians take note: We’re not allowed to text and drive, and there’s a reason for that. People get distracted and hit objects because they don’t notice them, and this is no different when wheels are swapped for feet.

Kindness is the best policy
Last, but certainly not least, be nice! If you see a person stop to let a car pass, don’t just keep going blindly. It’s rude to the driver and it’s rude to the person trying to be courteous. Stop for two seconds and then go on. That moment you decide to stop may be the only chance the driver’s had in the last 15 minutes to pass any point on campus.

All these things are very easy to do and don’t require much thought. As the saying goes, give a little, get a little. If you do your part, others will naturally follow. In no time, this campus can become a safe and happy place for drivers and pedestrians alike.

—Luna Kinani