Taking Sides

I live in a region where people often finish sentences with “Roll Tide!” or “War Eagle!” Since neither of my alma maters (or almae matres, if you prefer) had a football team, I prefer not to take sides on this issue (if pressed to express a preference, I’ll claim allegiance to Vanderbilt University, my father’s school, or Harvard College, my daughter’s), but I am tediously adamant about the “right” side when walking.

I was taught that, in the absence of a sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the left side, facing traffic. I have some support for this view, actually. The Alabama Driver Manual, published by the Alabama Department of Public Safety, Driver License Division, May 2008 edition, states (p. 63):


  • Obey traffic control signals at intersections.
  • Use sidewalks where provided and usable.
  • Walk on the left side of the roadway giving way to oncoming traffic. [Emphasis added]
  • Yield to all vehicles when crossing at points other than within a marked crosswalk or in a crosswalk (extension of the sidewalk) at an intersection.
  • Not stand in the roadway while hitchhiking.

Apparently no one is being taught this any more, as I seem constantly to be dodging pedestrians coming directly toward me on “my” side of the street. Even more annoying, if I am walking on the left and another pedestrian or runner is on the right, a motorist approaching from our rear will go out of his way to swerve away from the other pedestrian and toward me, often forcing me off the road. Between that and dodging cars determined to run me down in crosswalks, walking can be an adventure!

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4 Responses to Taking Sides

  1. Luc Sanders says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    I am a member of a walking club. And here too walking left is strongly recommended. Much safer if you see the traffic coming toward you. The rules you mention apply here also.
    While walking, roads where cars drive by are generally avoided. Just had a wonderful weekend walking in the Ardennes. Walking through woods, alongside rivers, just plainy wonderful. We had some bad weather, wind and rain but managed to do some brisk walks nevertheless.


  2. Luc Sanders says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    Walking on the left of the street is also recommended here. I am a member of a walking club and it is one of the first things one is instructed to do. If you see the traffic coming it is safer and you can jump to the side when needed.
    The walks are organized so that they seldom use important roads. But on occasion it is unavoidable.
    I had a walking weekend last week in the Belgian Ardennes, walked mainly in woods, no cars to be spotted luckily.
    We had some bad weather but managed to get the walks done.

  3. In case anyone else is reading this, I’ll point out that there are two similar comments from Luc because he tried again when the first one didn’t appear; both got marked as spam (not by me!), but that situation has now been corrected.

  4. A friend of mine who is similarly irked has threatened to have T-shirts printed saying “If you can read this, you’re on the wrong side of the street!”

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