21.1.11

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Layer Up!

Conventions of pedestrian etiquette, for example, prescribe that strangers do not touch one another on the street. In New York, one of the more “impersonal” cities of America, people who bump into each other on the crowded sidewalks rarely fail to apologize. Yet a person from a sparsely populated region of southern Illinois might be started at being bumped on a Manhattan street corner and complain about the very abrupt apology. What seems abrupt to the urban neophyte is, in the context of living in a densely populated environment, sufficient for the occasion. It also avoids a prolonged encounter, something more familiar to the small-town inhabitant where sidewalks are less crowded and collisions much less frequent. Just as the person from southern Illinois walks according to a shared pattern of pedestrian movement in his region, so do pedestrians living in Chicago, New York, London, Munich, and Moscow customarily walk in such a way that their movements are predictable and intrusions infrequent.

Collisions do occur, however, and the reaction to the intrusions varies quite markedly from city to city. Londonites, for instance, go to considerable effort to avoid touching or bumping into each other, and if a collision does occur, they apologize. The pattern is similar in New York, but less striking. In Paris, however, people bump into each other rather frequently, as if they made no effort to avoid the contact, and do not usually apologize. During the winter when the streets are slippery, Muscovites often fall, crash into each other, and sometimes bring down a whole group of people like a stack of dominoes. They rarely apologize and pay little attention to those who fall. In New York and Munich, in contrast, slipping is a much rarer event as de-icing salt is regularly strewn about. When it does occur, it is the cause of much concern.

-Norman Ashcraft and Albert E. Scheflen, “People Space: The Making and Breaking of Human Boundaries.”


[The coldest morning.]

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[Click images for links.]


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[Via CityPages.]

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[The audio on this is playing backwards for some reason, but otherwise its awesome.]

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[Via BusTales.]

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21st Avenue Bicycles - Family Fun Bike Build! from James Wilson on Vimeo.


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