General Question

sarahsugs's avatar

In England, do people walk on the left side of the sidewalk when passing someone walking the other way?

Asked by sarahsugs (2888 points ) February 16th, 2008

Just wondering if the side one walks on correlates with the side one drives on. Here in the US where we drive on the right, I notice that most people veer to the right when walking as well.

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8 Answers

boydieshere's avatar

I think it’s just the same. Like you said, most people tend to veer to the right in the U.S., I would imagine most people in England veer to the left when walking…but it’s also only most of the time (as you pointed out). I wouldn’t say this is concrete, though.

jrpowell's avatar

When I was in London on the escalators leading out of the tube people (in a hurry) went to the left and slow people stayed to the right.

osakarob's avatar

This is not restricted to England. Many post colonial countries “drive on the left”. Some countries that have no connection to English colonialism, like Japan, also drive on the left. And, yes to answer your question, we walk on the left too. I have heard many people over the years try to give explanations for this, however none have been more persuasive than the correlation to the automobile. It would be great if someone could cite sources from traffic law or the like with dates.

The point about escalators is actually another matter. It has come to my attention that when escalators were marketed and sold here in Japan, the major cities of Osaka and Tokyo purchased from both a British and American manufacturer, respectively. That somehow explains why the phenomenon that johnpowell notes about the London tube exists in Osaka, while the people in Tokyo (only 550kms or 340 miles away!) stand and walk completely oppositely!

segdeha's avatar

Here in New Zealand where we drive on the left, people tend to pass each other on the left when walking. Not always, of course, but usually.

jonno's avatar

In Australia (a left-driving country), people tend to stay on the left side of the footpath. Unlike England, though, when it comes to escalators, you will find that people stand on the left side of the escalator to let others pass by on the right in Australia.

artemisdivine's avatar

There are 74 countries that drive on the LEFT. There are 166 countries that drive on the right. Cool chart below. In Canada people are supposed to STAND on the right side of elevators and move quickly on the left side. But people are very rude these days and ignore this.

The following is a list of countries of the world whose inhabitants drive on the left-hand side of the road. Most of the drivers of these countries use right-hand-drive vehicles.
http://users.pandora.be/worldstandards/driving%20on%20the%20left.htm

We have an unspoken rule on London Underground escalators: always stand on the right. Many a visitor to our city has been caught out by this rule as it’s not made clear when you arrive, but if you stand in the way of a London commuter they’ll soon let you know!
http://golondon.about.com/od/londontransport/qt/standonright.htm

CaroleS's avatar

There’s a reason why we drive on the left in the UK. It dates back to jousting days when knights has their lances in their right hands and so attacked their opponent from the left. Not sure why other countries didn’t follow suit, tho’. Also, not good for left handed people like me.

craigole's avatar

I work at a large U.S. company with many people from other countries. I’ve noticed that people from Japan and India (both left-side driving countries) usually walk on the left side of the hallway, as well as some Europeans. Since most Americans stay on the right side, this leads to awkward collisions, especially when rounding a corner. I’ve also noticed that many left-side walkers seem puzzled as to why you’re in their way.

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