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Monday, April 11, 2016

Primer on Sidewalk Etiquette - top 10 rules

Primer on Sidewalk Etiquette

Nashvillians are lovely people known for their niceness, quirky good looks and southern charm.  That being said, they fall a little deficient when it comes to sidewalk etiquette.  Not to be blamed - the culture has not historically been one of active transport of the pedestrian nature.  This, of course, can be blamed on our crazy-quilt of erratic sidewalk infrastructure, some connected, most not.  

So, as Spring has sprung and people are feeling excited to get back outside again, I ask you to consider a few basic sidewalk rules:

1. Use your peripheral vision
---Don't only rely on what you see directly ahead of you.  Use your peripheral vision to identify others and to keep the flow on the sidewalk moving

2. No large unexpected movements.  I know, not fun, but if you have ever been hit in the face when someone suddenly spreads their arms wide, you will know that this kind of movement is not a good idea. 

3. Equally, don't stop short.  

4. No large objects in the middle of the sidewalk - move it off to the side.  Similar rules apply in the grocery store.  And, crosswalks.

5. Practise good posture

6. Brief eye contact can be a thrill

7. People watch

Nashville, too!

8. If you are lucky enough to have a sidewalk, help keep it clean.  Sweep it off!

9. If there are a lot of walkers in your neighborhood, consider investing in a front porch or front walkway.  If you have a front porch, use it!  

10.  Advocate for your neighborhood to get better walkability

---consider adding to the map at link below your thoughts and opinions about the state of walkability where you know it best.


  1. Uh, you better do more than just keep your sidewalk clean. From the Metro Code:

    13.32.030 - Repair and maintenance—Owner responsibility—Hold harmless agreement.
    It shall be the duty of both the owner and the person in possession of any property that adjoins a street, alley or sidewalk in the urban services district to keep and maintain that portion thereof which immediately adjoins and lies along the margin of such street, alley or sidewalk free from dangerous holes, declivities, excavations, obstructions and other defects that constitute a hazard to persons lawfully and properly using the street, alley or sidewalk. Such owner and such person in possession of such property shall erect such fences, rails or barriers along such street, alley or sidewalk as may be necessary to prevent such excavations, holes, declivities, obstructions and other defects from constituting a hazard to persons lawfully and properly using the street, alley or sidewalk. Such owner and such person in possession of such property shall also upon notice from the director of public works, place and securely fasten red warning lights at and along such street, alley or sidewalk; and keep the same burning during the entire night, and shall keep such lights burning each night until such dangerous condition has ceased to exist.
    The owner and person in possession of such property adjoining a street, alley or sidewalk shall indemnify and hold harmless the metropolitan government from any and all damages, losses, claims, charges, costs, suits, and actions of every nature and description that may be brought against the metropolitan government as a result of any injury or damage to persons or property sustained by reason of the violation of or failure to comply with this section or any part thereof, and such owner or person in possession of such property shall be liable over to the metropolitan government. The metropolitan government may recover from such owner or person in possession the full amount of its loss and damage, including all court costs, irrespective of whether there was a joint liability and a joint judgment against the metropolitan government and such owner or person in possession of such property.
    (Prior code § 38-2-7)

    13.32.040 - Snow and ice removal—Owner responsibility.
    It shall be the duty of every owner or proprietor of any dwelling house, business house or other house abutting on any public street, square or avenue within the fire district to remove or cause to be removed from the sidewalk immediately in front of his premises all snow and ice which may each day accumulate thereon.

    (Prior code § 38-2-9)

  2. You forgot the most important sidewalk rule - walk on the right. Yes, just you are driving a car, er I mean, just like your bus driver has to drive the bus on the roadway. Walk to the right and do not walk so many abreast that nobody can get around your group.