Social Question

rojo's avatar

For those countries where the driver is on the right hand side of a vehicle, when two people are walking toward each other, which side do they gravitate to in order to pass?

Asked by rojo (24159points) March 1st, 2016

Just wondering. I have noticed that here in my little part of the US (although there is little walking) and during my stay in a large metropolitan area people tended to move to their right in order to pass and that moves to the left seem to confuse the oncoming person somewhat; not that they can’t adjust but just that they seem a little uncomfortable.

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11 Answers

NerdyKeith's avatar

Do you mean does the driver move to another lane in order to turn the car? Yes, they usually move over to the left, then turn left (if they are turning left).

rojo's avatar

No, @NerdyKeith I mean people walking down the sidewalk. I use the driver placement only as a means of distinguishing between groups (those who drive on the left vs those who drive on the right).

rojo's avatar

Which reminds me of a joke:

Q: Which countries drive on the left?

A: Um, all of them?

NerdyKeith's avatar

Oh ok. I haven’t noticed people moving particularly right or left in order to let the other person pass. Usually wherever there is room. If its in the city centre it usually doesn’t matter because the foot paths are usually very wide and thus more space.

Soubresaut's avatar

I’m also in the US, and in cities or suburban places near me, it’s almost always that we move to the right when passing each other. I’ve always assumed it was because of the way we drive. When anyone moves to their left, it’s usually a more deliberate action, and they give some sort of visual cue that “I’m deviating here! Go with it!”—some eye contact or small gesture—and usually only because of some logistical element in the moment (their child or their dog is already on their left, for example.) Other exceptions… Downtown, when some groups are window-shopping, they usually hug the storefronts regardless the direction. And when someone’s not paying any attention to where they’re going, I duck out of their way. Etc.

But again I think of those as exceptions. Without such circumstantial elements, I go to my right side, and they go to theirs. Of course, maybe I’m just so stubborn about “passing on the right” strangers approaching me tend to follow my lead…?

When there is a lot of foot traffic, the directions on the sidewalk are usually already determined by the stream of people, so there isn’t that moment of deciding which way to go, but it’s usually following the way we drive.

At least, that’s been my experience!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m in Kansas (which is in the middle U.S. for those of you who claim Kansas doesn’t exist.) I noticed a long time ago that people tend to move to the right to pass others when they’re walking, like at the grocery store and stuff.

Mimishu1995's avatar

My country is obsessed to the drive-on-the-right thing, but it only applies to vehicles. Pedestrians work according to their emotion.

JLeslie's avatar

They usually move to the left to pass each other when facing each other oncoming like we move to the right. Also, on escalators and moving walkways in busy cities you are expected to stand on the left so people can walk by you on the right. Some people don’t follow the unwritten rules (well, sometimes things are written on the escalators) and sometimes you make a judgement call in the moment that you are already more to one side and you just choose it, even if it’s opposite to the cultural norm. It’s exactly like the US, just the opposite side.

Stinley's avatar

I think I move to the left and I drive on the left (UK). I shall observe and report back my findings

Lightlyseared's avatar

U.K. Try to pass on the left.

Stinley's avatar

I haven’t perfected my observation yet. There are many factors to consider. I tried watching the double doors at work. I noticed that people don’t seem to choose one side over the other but follow the person in front or go through the door already open. I noticed that more people came in through the left door but then I realised that the left side is slightly nearer the top of the stairs. So that nulifies that effect. I gave up then

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