slow walkers: the real pandemic

by spencerdooley

michael haydon

Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest
differences. Currently, there are way too many big
problems in the world, so why not start with something
simple and achievable while also helping millions of
people? The issue I would like to address today is that of
slow walkers. Now, let me start by acknowledging two
things. Firstly, I understand that slow walkers will likely
never change (they will likely even get slower with age!),
so my plan works around the inevitable slow walkers to
make a more enjoyable walking experience for everyone.
There are few (if any) excuses for being a slow walker,
and even then, at least be a self-aware slow walker.
Anyway, you are undoubtedly thinking to yourself,
“this is such a huge issue in my life that without a doubt
would greatly affect my life in a myriad of ways – how do
we solve this right now so I can feel happy again?” Well,
I am glad you asked, and are thinking the same thing I
have all these years. The first thing that must happen is
all sidewalks must be widened by at least 8 inches. Now
I don’t really do numbers, but here is some math: the
average sidewalk width in the U.S. is 48 inches and the
average shoulder width of a person is 16 inches. Now the
95th percentile for shoulder width is approximately 20
inches. So, in the unlikely but possible scenario where
there are two people in the 95th percentile for shoulder
width walking on the same sidewalk, that only leaves
8 inches for passing room. If the average person with

16-inch shoulders wants to pass one of these broad-
shouldered individuals, what the hell do they do?

Once all sidewalks are widened 8 inches, lines must be
drawn. There will be two lines drawn on every sidewalk,
dividing into a left lane, a right lane, and then a center
lane which is solely to be used for passing slow walkers.
Ever wonder why there are “rules of the road” when
driving but not the “rules of the walkways”? Yeah, me

too. It is baffling we have drivers ed classes aimed towards
teaching young people the correct way to drive and how
to be a respectful driver with good driving etiquette,
and not a walking etiquette program aimed at making
people better, more conscious walkers. Walking etiquette
would include other topics, such as appropriate walking
speed (this is where it differs from driving as there is no
speed maximum but there is a minimum walking speed

enforced), when and how to pass people, and other
general “rules of the walkway”.
To take it to the next level, we must go big. By this I
mean, we need those in power to endorse this idea
and maybe even increase the concept to an overall

“pedestrian score”. Here is the concept: All shoes are
made with a personalized barcode on the heel, an app is
developed where everyone has their own profile and can
leave “pedestrian reviews” by scanning the barcode on
people’s shoes and rating their “overall pedestrian ability”.
Everyone starts out with a certain number of points and
points are deducted by people reporting “pedestrian
violations” through said app. Once you reach zero,
there will be some sort of small punishment (TBD).
Visualize this, you are standing in the absurdly long
covid testing line at UVM on a Monday afternoon. All
the sudden someone cuts you. All you do is scan their
barcode discretely, select the pedestrian violation, and
points will be immediately deducted from their score.
Slow walker in front of you? Leave a review on their
pedestrian profile. Witness a violation not ever listed
before? Create your own violation and receive an boost
in points to reward your help in making us all better

Of course, in an ideal world, we would have “super-
walkways” where there are six lanes of walking traffic,

with each side having a slow lane, a medium lane, and
a passing/fast lane. However, I am all about realism
and simple implementation here. The slight widening
of the common sidewalk and a well-thought-out
walking etiquette curriculum would immediately make
sidewalks a more enjoyable place to be. People would
be on time more often, they would be less aggravated,
and overall, their lives would be better. Accountability
is the name of the game. Together, I will hold everyone
accountable for lacking “common pedestrian knowledge”.
If you have gained anything from reading this, please
for the love of god; be a respectful walker, walk with a
purpose, and maybe, just maybe walk a little faster

Categories: march 23 2021, review

%d bloggers like this: