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Walk This Way: 6 Tips for Courteously Getting Around Boston

Posted by Alex Pearlman  October 2, 2011 10:13 AM

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subway.jpgExcluding the Charles River and the city's harbors, the city of Boston is only about 50 square miles. And, according to the 2010 Census, 617,594 people are squeezed into that space. So we really ought to behave ourselves better. You know what I mean: Whether you're on the T or a bus, walking down a Financial District sidewalk or through Chinatown, or out in Mattapan, Dorchester, Central Square, or Somerville, there always seem to be people who simply don’t know how to walk.

Be courteous to your fellow Bostonians. Here are a few tips.

You are Not the Only Person in the World. Sometimes you don’t need to get anywhere particularly quickly, so why walk fast? As you meander, you take time to notice the clouds and the funny little pigeons dancing at your feet -- gosh, aren’t they adorable! But why is there a screaming mob behind you?

Most people have to get somewhere, and many of them had to be there 10 minutes ago. Walking slowly is fine, but please do it at the Common -- or at least off to the side of the sidewalk. Don't make other pedestrians who want to get around you share space with cars as you take up the entire sidewalk.

The T is for EVERYONE. “[My greatest pet peeve is] taking up more than one space with [a] backpack or purse," said Haley Evertt, 20. "Or, when you go to sit down, [someone sitting near you] give[s] you a dirty look.”

Other people like sitting, too, and there's plenty of space in the seat next to you. Your backpack will be just fine in your lap or on the ground. If it really needs the luxurious, much desired seat beside you, at least let the passenger that would like that seat sit in your lap. That seems fair.

The Person You're Talking to on Your Phone Isn't Deaf -- But the People Around You Wish They Were. "[I] love how people, if they're in a car, assume there's bad reception on their phones and scream into [them] while there's a bazillion people around," said Alex Grover, 20.

That's a bazillion people who (probably) don’t want to hear about what Billy did with Jessica in his basement last night. (Good for Billy!)

Sudden Stops Kill -- or at Least Cause Collisions. What’s worse than someone walking at a snail’s pace in the middle of the sidewalk? Someone walking right in front of you who suddenly, inexplicably stops. Plenty of coffees have been spilled, pizzas dropped, and 17-page midterm papers scattered in puddles of grimy water because of sudden stoppers. If you just realized you forgot your bagel in the car, slow down, and turn around in a natural, easily predictable pattern.

Just Because You Have Tons of Friends Doesn’t Mean You Have to Take Them With You Everywhere.Gee wiz, you sure have a lot of friends! How did all 37 of you fit into that car? Look at how good a time you're having right in the middle of everyone trying to get to work -- huzzah! What’s this, someone’s trying to get through the middle of your group so she can get to her interview on time? How dare she! Form a tighter circle. She shall not pass!

Groups of friends are awesome (I wish I had one), but keep it moving, people.

When in Doubt, Be Polite! Erin Woodson, 20, put it succinctly when asked her greatest travel pet peeve: “Rude people!” People who don’t bother holding doors for the elderly or someone in a wheelchair. People who somehow manage to take up four seats on the Green Line at 8 a.m. People who gesticulate without concern for strangers around them.

We all learned "The Golden Rule" in kindergarten, if not before. So abide by it! Hold doors. Walk at a reasonable pace. Be aware of others. As Boston's population continues to grow, your kindness and courteousness will make traveling in the area much more bearable.

Photo by maveric2003 (Flickr)

By Paul Driskill -- 21. Queer. Stress-able. Enjoys brains (studying them, that is). Enjoys writing. Goes to UMass Boston. Frisbee. Om-noms frequently. Utilizes the phrase "om-noms" occasionally in profiles.

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