Opinion: How to be a pedestrian in Vancouver

Mar 18 2017, 12:51 am

Vancouver is a very walkable city, and it’s fantastic that we boast an ever growing army of pedestrians. What’s not so fantastic however, is the ever growing number of pedestrians who simply don’t know how to walk on the streets.

After all, while motorists require supervised instruction before being unleashed onto the streets of Vancouver, there’s no licensing system for walking (perhaps there should be?).

So I thought I’d take a moment to write down some handy tips to help would-be walkers avoid the ire of their fellow travellers.

Always walk on the right goddamn side of the sidewalk

Pedestrians / Shutterstock

There’s a lot of pedestrians in Vancouver, so in order to share the sidewalks, everyone has to walk in an orderly fashion. Keep to the right, and out of my way.

Pick up the pace

There’s nothing worse than walking behind a slow moving pedestrian. Have you literally got nowhere to be? Speed it up a few steps will ya?

Let people pass you

Okay, there’s one thing worse than walking behind a slow pedestrian, and it’s not being able to pass the aforementioned ambler. So please refrain from taking up the entire sidewalk so those who aren’t moving at a slow crawl can get around you.

Leave texting and walking to the extremely coordinated


Samuel Zeller/Unsplash

If you have to look down at your phone the entire time while you’re writing a text message, you do not qualify for cellphone privileges while walking. Please pull over to the side of the sidewalk before pulling out your phone. And for the love of God, refrain from Snapchatting on the streets.

No dead stops

We’ve all experienced that startling collision when someone decides to come to an abrupt stop immediately ahead of you. You may collide, you may even knock them down. But remember it is solely their fault. If ICBC insured pedestrians the same way they did cars this would be the equivalent of a rear ender.

Pay attention when you’re crossing the street



You probably think this goes without saying, but if you spend half an hour walking downtown you’ll see it does not. So it’s time to repeat that childhood adage – look both ways before you cross the street.

Don’t be offended when cars don’t stop for you when you’re wearing all black

Did you seriously expect them to see you in the dark? It’s just not the driver’s fault so think before you start yelling obscenities at them.

Wait for the pedestrian signal

Traffic light/ Shutterstock

Let the chirping birdie guide you. No one likes that person who runs across the street just as the light is changing. Motorists will hate you, other pedestrians will hate you, and tourists will copy you— so just don’t do it.

Don’t sing while you’re walking

We all get it, you can sing – but just keep it to yourself. The same goes for those of you who feel the need to share your music with us. How about doing us all a favour and replacing those awful sounding portable speakers with a decent pair of headphones yeah?

Don’t smoke OR vape

A man vaping (bedya/Shutterstock)

Vaping (bedya/Shutterstock)

For the most part, pedestrians are active healthy people, which means we do not want to inhale your second-hand cancer sticks. “But vaping’s cool right?” No, it’s not. No one wants to pass through a cloud of sickly sweet vape smoke on their way to work in the morning.

Don’t just hang out on street corners

Are you crossing or not? If not, back away from the street corner…And please refrain from having group corner conferences about where the hell you’re going. Get out of my way.

Control your dog and/or children

toronto dogs

Christie Vuong

When creatures are significantly below head level they are tripping hazards. Don’t let your dog or child get in another pedestrian’s way. Leashes are a necessity in a city (though probably optional for children).

Sam SchonewilleSam Schonewille

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