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Your Official Penn State Sidewalk Etiquette Guide

Walking to class is a vital part of the college experience, especially at one of the most walkable universities in the country. This might be the only time in your life when you’ll live within walking distance of all your necessities, but for many, it can be the most infuriating part of the day.

The struggle of rushing to class while it seems like everyone around you can’t walk to save their lives is a universal experience, or at least a Penn State one. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled some of the unspoken rules of sidewalk etiquette that, unfortunately, need to be talked about.

Stay To The Right

I would hope most of you know the rules of the road by now, and foot traffic on the sidewalk is no different. Unless you’re passing someone, you should always be on the right side of the sidewalk when there are other people around. If it’s completely empty, hey, go crazy and walk right down the middle! But, if you’re actively choosing to walk down the middle and bumping elbows without a care…you’re the problem.

Be Prepared To Condense

Sure, who doesn’t love a main character moment while walking to class with friends? But, your Lululemon blockade is pushing the other people into the grass. Any group of two or more people should have the natural condensing formation down pat. One speeds up a bit to go in front while the other falls behind. Everyone has a right to walk on the sidewalk, and your inability to walk by yourself to class doesn’t take precedence over that.

All Bike, Scooter, & Skateboard Users: Chill Out

First, I have never seen more crashes in my life than I have since I got to college…like ever. Secondly, you guys need to slow down or work on your reflexes. The point is to get places quicker, but the confident weaving to clipping someone’s shoe pipeline is an epidemic. That’s my warning. Look alive.

Don’t Stop

Maybe you got a “your exam has been graded” notification on Canvas, maybe your shoe is untied, or maybe you just need a break from walking. Either way, DO NOT STOP. Please. PLEASE step to the side if you feel the need to pause. No one wants to have to walk around someone standing in the middle of their path. It’s called a sideWALK, so walk on it.

BeReal Somewhere Else

If I’m in the back of another random person’s BeReal, I’m going to lose my mind. Now, I know what you’re thinking — “I only have two minutes, how else am I supposed to post on time?” Here’s a simple solution: only have YOUR face in the picture. Does that mean you’ll have to trade in your quirky middle-aged mom-angled selfie for a lower angle? Yes. But at least those around you won’t feel violated on their walk to class and you won’t have a rando in one of your memories. The best of both worlds.

Walk In A Straight Line

Self-explanatory, but I’ll still help you out. Picture this. You’re walking behind someone you need to pass. You make your move, picking up the pace to pass on the left side, and then they move to the left, cutting you off. You reassess. Now they’re in the middle of the sidewalk. You start moving to the right for an inside sneak and BOOM, they move back to the right, unconsciously boxing you out and frustrating the hell out of you. Don’t be that guy.

Cover Your Mouth

We’re in the season where everyone is sick. It’s part of college life, but there’s no need to spray it everywhere. Being outside doesn’t give you a free pass to cough/sneeze/whatever into the open, especially when people are walking on all sides of you. It’s gross.

On a similar note…

Unhock Those Loogies

Don’t spit when there’s someone behind you. That should be common sense, but everyone needs a reminder now and then. Don’t do it. Other than the splatter getting everywhere, if it’s not a clean break, you’re going to spit on yourself too, which is embarrassing for everyone.

Give Slow Walkers A Break

Sometimes the worst part of walking is getting stuck behind a slow walker. You have the urge to passive-aggressively cut them off while passing or maybe give them a dirty look. As a fellow fast walker, the pain is shared, but it’s not their fault. Some people can’t help it and are just slow walkers. As long as they’re doing everything else right, let them live their truth.

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About the Author

Megan Kelby

Megan Kelby is a junior at Penn State majoring in journalism. She is from the great state of Delaware and does not tolerate any 302 slander. Megan is a fan of Sudoku, music, and rocket pops. If you feel the need to, you can email her at [email protected]

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