Opinion: Dear tourists and NYU students, walk faster

When people are just trying to get somewhere, it can be very frustrating to get stuck behind slow walkers who just won’t move.

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Luke Flanagan

(Luke Flanagan for WSN)

Alia Arafeh, Contributing Writer

When I first moved to New York City, I thought that life would be fast-paced. In movies like “13 Going on 30” and “The Devil Wears Prada,” everyone speed walks to their destinations, looking straight ahead and moving with purpose and direction. I was able to adopt that walk when I arrived and assumed it would be the norm. 

However, I quickly noticed that wasn’t the case for everyone. Many people walked slowly and did not move out of the way, even if they were obstructing the flow of foot traffic. I understand that not everyone has somewhere to be, but if that is the case, then you should, respectfully, make room for those who do.

“I find it annoying when people walk slow,” Steinhardt first-year Hope Polhill said. She also wished that “they would walk to the side so that I can get to my classes quicker.”

Walking behind a slow walker can be very frustrating — especially when I am just trying to get to class. If I am rushing due to lateness or if I don’t particularly feel like being outside in the rain or in the humidity for very long, trying to navigate around the person in front of me is indescribably infuriating. Another common occurrence is when a large group of people walk slowly in a line, again making it difficult for faster walkers to get around them. 

Slow walking has the potential to cause foot traffic jams. I tend to get stuck in these pileups in front of Bobst Library and the Tisch Hall on West Fourth Street. This is a particularly annoying nuisance, especially when I manage to circumvent the crowds, only to realize that one person’s slow pace is causing many others to get stuck behind them. 

“I find [slow walkers] to be an inconvenience, but sometimes I just want to stroll, so I understand,” Tisch sophomore Elena Portnoy said. 

Admittedly, slow walking is not always the problem — the problem is inconveniencing others when there is plenty of space to move out of the way. I enjoy a calm walk as much as a fast-paced walk, but it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and respectful to those around you. 

I understand the desire to take in the ambiance of New York City — like the sidewalk dog poop and the cigarette smoke — but I also think that, especially around the NYU campus, most people are just trying to get somewhere. If you know that you’re going to be walking slowly because you want to sight-see, that is totally respectable. What is not respectable is doing so at the expense of other people’s time. 

In addition to sightseers, other slow walkers include people on their phones and lost tourists. I understand the need to follow Google Maps or to text your friends between classes, but I also believe that it is important to be cognizant of those around you. Spatial awareness in a big city such as New York, where there are busy college students and working adults, is crucial and respectful.

Just as slow-moving traffic moves to the right lane, slow-walking people should move out of the way as a gesture of kindness and to keep sidewalk traffic moving. Everyone has, at least once, experienced the frustration of being stuck behind someone walking or driving slowly. So don’t be that person.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Alia Arafeh at [email protected]