Questioning Our Pedestrian Lives

Part 1 in a series on pedestrian laws and practices across jurisdictions. To help with the discussion, please take this short survey. Results will be shared in Part 2.

I don’t recall if he was more Eric Estrada or Barney Fife as he peered from his patrol car, but he told us we’d been riding on the wrong side — which was the right side(!)

My older sister and I had been pedaling our Schwinns down the main street of our town of 2,500. The flashing lights behind us had sent shivers down my seven year old spine.

No ticket. Instead: An invitation to a “workshop” for all two-wheeled scofflaws who’d been picked up in the city’s recent dragnet to make the streets safe again for town drunks swerving home from Schmitty’s after their shift at the mill. Justice had been done. Order had been restored.

This memory comes back to me when I (literally) run into walkers and runners who use the left side. Yup, we’ve now mostly accepted that bicycles really should go on the right side, yet we’re confused about other non-automotive traffic. And these confusions are amplified on biking and walking paths where lanes seem to randomly merge and diverge.

To help explore this, I created a little unscientific survey that will remain open until April 24. In the next installment, I will share the results, along with some analysis and personal rantings.

About Paul Strebe

Paul is a Twin Cities-based healthcare consultant with an interest in healthy communities and aging issues. He lives with his wife and daughters in the South Minneapolis neighborhood of Cooper. He tweets at @paul_klared

One thought on “Questioning Our Pedestrian Lives

  1. Walker AngellWalker Angell

    Great topic! With very few people on a path it doesn’t seem to matter much. As the number of people using the path increases then it seems much more important for people jogging and walking to be on the right. This can be uncomfortable for them having faster bicycle riders coming up behind them however.

    The Dutch CROW manual sets a limit of 100 people walking/jogging per hour per meter of track width for sharing. Beyond that pedestrians and bicycles/disabled must be segregated. Dutch engineers though take this as worst case and will usually build separate facilities at lower expected levels. This is frequently seen as rural/exurban bikeways enter more built up areas. As the density increases a footway will suddenly appear beside the bikeway. Generally people in Europe will walk on the left and run on the right of bikeways.

    Looking forward to the results of the survey and what all you come up with.

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