Walking down the Street | Manners & Etiquette


Proper ladies and gentlemen know the pleasures of walking together down the sidewalk. But Meredith Sweetpea is afraid that many people have forgotten these simple etiquette rules, so she’ll gently remind you of them here:

  • When meeting on the sidewalk, pass the other person on the right.
  • In the evening, or to protect a lady’s safety, a gentleman should offer his arm.
  • A gentleman may offer his arms to two ladies at the same time, but in no case should a woman walk arm in arm with two gentlemen.
  • When walking with a group, care should be taken to move to the right to allow those passing on the left to do so with ease. It is common courtesy. Once the person or persons has moved by, it is acceptable to return to your position at the left of the group.
  • A gentleman should always walk on the curb side of the lady (or ladies), in case a car (or carriage) should come by and splash her with muddy water.
  • Never stop suddenly on the sidewalk. If it becomes necessary to turn around, move to the right of the sidewalk and wait for a clearing. This is especially important on crowded streets such as those in New York City.
  • When alighting from or entering a car, a gentleman should come around and offer his arm to assist the lady in or out. (It’s the same with a carriage.)
  • When crossing the street in a long dress, a proper lady should raise the hem of her dress slightly with her right hand, to just a little above the ankle. In no cases should she raise her dress with both hands. That is considered vulgar.
  • Be mindful of the noise you make. Do not engage in overly loud conversations or laughter, or share your loud music with others around you. This is especially important in the morning or at night.
  • Never call out loudly in public unless it is an absolute emergency.
  • Please do not spit on the sidewalk or street.
  • Respect the traffic laws and cross streets at intersections. On streets where there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side facing traffic.
  • Bicycles and motorized scooters should not travel on sidewalks. They belong in the street. Roller skates and skateboards also do not belong on the sidewalk and Meredith Sweetpea hopes you are not weaving in and out of the pedestrian traffic!
  • If you must multitask, such as text messaging or talking on the phone, it is imperative that you either maintain your regular speed or move to the far right of the sidewalk.
  • If you walk with your dog, keep to the right. In case your pet has a sudden urge you can move out of traffic quickly. Clean up after your pet.
  • Do not litter on the sidewalk or street.

For more interesting Victorian rules, check out this chapter from Emily Post (1873-1960).

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