Get Out of My Way, You Jerk!

I think there are some points we can learn from this article.

From the Wall Street Journal:

You don’t need a car to get road rage.

For many people, few things are more infuriating than slow walkers—those seemingly inconsiderate people who clog up sidewalks, grocery aisles and airport hallways while others fume behind them.

Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.

. . .

Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a “mean face” or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.

. . .

How one interprets the situation is key, researchers say. Ragers tend to have a strong sense of how other people should behave. Their code: Slower people keep to the right. Step aside to take a picture. And the left side of an escalator should be, of course, kept free for anyone wanting to walk up.

“A lot of us have ‘shoulds’ in our head,” says Dr. Deffenbacher. Ragers tend to think people should do things their way, and get angry because the slow walkers are breaking the rules of civility. It’s unclear exactly why some people harbor such beliefs, Dr. Deffenbacher says. Such ways of thinking are generally learned from family, friends or the media, he adds.

Ragers’ thoughts tend to be overly negative, over-generalized and blown out of proportion, leaving them fuming about how they can’t stand the situation, how late they are going to be, and how this always comes up, Dr. Deffenbacher says. In contrast, someone blissfully free of sidewalk rage may still be frustrated, but thinks more accepting thoughts such as, “this is the way life is sometimes” or, “I wish that slow person wasn’t in front of me,” he says.

More here.

13 replies
  1. John Brooking
    John Brooking says:

    I think there’s something to the fact that some people have this idea in their heads about what constitutes proper behavior, with varying degrees of justification, and get easily set off by others who appear to be clueless about the rules, or just not paying attention. It’s probably just human nature, so it makes sense that it can happen in any modes. May be more extreme in car driving due to the faster speeds and higher degree of danger involved.

    For example, one thing that used to annoy me more even as a bicyclist was when groups of people on foot would just stand around yakking in the middle of one side of a residential street, seemingly oblivious to the approach of any traffic, car or bike. Now that my view of the road has been changing more towards the public commons viewpoint, I’ve become more tolerant of that sort of thing. Just go around them safely, that’s all.

    Regarding Cliff’s comment, one way to interpret cycle tracks would be that they alleviate some opportunity for road rage between motorists and cyclists, and replace it with (equal? more? less?) opportunity for road rage between cyclists and pedestrians. I know at least one vehicular cyclist who does not appreciate that very much, from both the cyclist and pedestrian perspective.

    • cliff
      cliff says:

      I was referring to a report I saw a few years ago about conflicts
      between cyclists in cycle tracks. Some faster riders would get
      upset being trapped behind slower riders.

  2. Eli Damon
    Eli Damon says:

    When I am stuck walking behind a slow pedestrian, I sometimes amuse myself in a somewhat passive aggressive manner by pretending to run in slow-motion behind them. But I have ever NEVER witnessed, or even heard of, an outburst of “sidewalk rage”.

  3. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    I can’t say that I’ve not been guilty of some form of this “attitude” in the past, but I will allow that it’s not a recent (five years?) thing for me. Even more so now that I use the sidewalks for true transportation, I feel I’m a bit more tolerant of other sidewalk users. It’s race week in Daytona Beach, and I was cursing out a couple of drivers (internally, silently) for being so darn slow, up to the point where I passed them and left them behind. Eight lanes on US 92 at the speedway does allow for some flexibility in lane selection.

    Back to the sidewalk, I use an electric self-balancing unicycle made by Focus Designs (ask me for discount code 🙂 to go to the grocery, auto parts, nearby clients. It’s not a vehicle, it’s not a bicycle, so on the sidewalk I travel. Pedestrians do not hear me approach, so I slow to their speed, edge closer and usually speak a greeting and ask if I may roll through. I’ve made a game of trying to be as polite as possible, and it’s much more fun than getting worked up.

    If only all the people out here could be amicable with each other, or is it “be excellent to each other” (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure 1989), our transportation experiences would be far more enjoyable.

    I’m always disappointed when I approach someone on the sidewalk who intentionally averts his gaze as we pass. I will still say good morning or good afternoon, though. So sad.

  4. Carlos
    Carlos says:

    I use Cady Way a few times a week for running and biking, and I’ve always wondered about people who walk on their left side. Are they afraid they are going to get hit from behind and think if they can see what’s coming at them they can get out of the way quicker? I can only assume so.

    Sometimes it can be an annoyance if someone is coming at me on the correct side of the trail and I can’t go around the people going the wrong way because I’ll end up hitting the person coming at me. When I’m running, I’ll sometimes run even further right, into the dirt if I have to. Then there are other times I try to stand my ground and run straight at them, sometimes as close to the edge as I can. This sometimes makes them move out of my way. I don’t actually plan on running into them and will just go around if needed.

    I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to react in these instances. Do I be nice and say hi or do I point out they are going the wrong way? Sometimes I just try not to make eye contact, but it all depends on the mood I’m in.

    I’ve never actually been vocal about it, but deep inside I want to say this isn’t England and we travel on the right side of the road. Hopefully negative thoughts don’t build up inside of me and I get “intermittent explosive disorder” from it.

    • Scott
      Scott says:

      In the U.S. we drive and cycle on the right, but walk on the left (against traffic). These people are probably just following those same rules.

      • Carlos
        Carlos says:

        Is this a general rule or law, because I did not know this? I always walk and run on the right side of Cay Way Trail and I see lots of other runners/walkers doing the same, except for the exceptions noted above. Should I be running and walking on the left side for now on?

        • NE2
          NE2 says:

          “Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway in relation to the pedestrian’s direction of travel, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.”
          You know, I can’t determine whether a trail is legally a highway… It’s certainly legally defined as a “bicycle path” but that doesn’t preclude it from also being a highway.

  5. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Ironically, I’d just been pondering the article in the website link. While the whole incident seems a little questionable, the usual troll comments abound. In this case, a mix of motorist trolls and cycling trolls.

  6. NE2
    NE2 says:

    Here we get joggers in the bike lane. I don’t mind – it gives me a legal excuse to go into the normal lane 🙂

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      Today the jogger I see most often was to the left of the bike lane, in the regular lane. Maybe cyclists complained about needing to move over to pass…?

      • Keri
        Keri says:

        Probably. Cyclists are more childish and territorial about bike lanes than motorists are about general use lanes. A few months ago a group of cyclists was harassing a person in a wheelchair for using the bike lane on a road in the Lee Vista area where the sidewalk is incomplete.

        Do unto others like they done unto you, I guess.

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