Sidewalk-Raging New Yorkers Secretly Want to Punch Tourists in the Head

Thumbnail image for tourists lane mark armstrong2.jpg
via Mark Armstrong
In New York City, we have all sorts of rage that other people from other places don't get to have. Many of those rages are proximity-based. Because there are a lot of us, and we like to get to where we're going in a hurry. Damn right! The Wall Street Journal has dissected the phenomenon of sidewalk rage, revealing important learnings to anyone who hopes to imitate a real New Yorker. In doing so, they have also uncovered some intriguing stats. Did you know that we walk at an average speed of 4.27 feet per second?

In a mere second, you speedy New Yorker, you have moved the approximate height of a very short human, or perhaps a child. Aimless, meandering tourists, however, walk a mere 3.79 feet per second. No wonder we hate them so.

But now our hatred is scientific. Yes, scientists have determined that sidewalk rage is a real thing.

One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as "intermittent explosive disorder," researchers say. On Facebook, there's a group called "I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head" that boasts nearly 15,000 members.

Make that 15,001. The scientists don't like that.

"We're trying to understand what makes people angry, what that experience is like," says Jerry Deffenbacher, a professor at Colorado State University who studies anger and road rage. "For those for whom anger is a personal problem, we're trying to develop and evaluate ways of helping them."

You know what makes us angry, Deffenbacher? When an "academic" like you tries to figure out what makes us angry! Anyway, if you have sidewalk rage, or any rage, you probably know it. But if you don't know it, the Journal has some clues to identifying yourself

Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a "mean face," or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.

ALSO:

* Having denigrating thoughts about other pedestrians
* Walking by a slower-moving pedestrian and cutting back too soon (feels hostile or rude)
* Feeling competitive with other pedestrians
* Acting in a hostile manner (staring, presenting a mean face, moving faster or closer than expected)
* Feeling stress and impatience when walking in a crowded area (crosswalk, staircase, mall, store, airport, street, beach, park, etc.)
* Walking much faster than the rest of the people
* Not yielding when it's the polite thing to do
* Walking on the left of a crowded passageway where most pedestrians walk on the right
* Muttering at other pedestrians
* Bumping into others
* Not apologizing when expected (after bumping by accident or coming very close in attempting to pass)
* Making insulting gestures
* Hogging or blocking the passageway, acting uncaring or unaware
* Expressing pedestrian rage against a driver (like insulting or throwing something)
* Feeling enraged at other pedestrians and enjoying thoughts of violence

Well, that's just life, isn't it?

Psychologists say we should calm down and pretend the pedestrian is "lost or confused," but we know that already and we still just want to punch them in the head, except that would only backfire and make them walk slower. Campaign to make the Tourists/New Yorkers sidewalk line an enforceable reality?

Get Out of My Way, You Jerk! [WSJ]

[JDoll]

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44 comments
brianjrogne
brianjrogne

just came from nyc had a good time, saw a theatre show and all the main sights... once is enough for me ...the city is a cash vacuum...... the people were friendly and  a great help to me in getting around... loved getting back home in Arkansas. The trip made me realize how much more I need to be walking in my life!

Hak_jr
Hak_jr

When I'm spending my money in NYC (as a tourist) I'm helping your stupid economy so get over it. When you come to my town (a tourist trap) drive like you know what you're doing and where you're going. If you're in the left lane and see your motel on the right go around the block instead of cutting across two lanes of traffic because you were too stupid to be in the proper lane.

aspara
aspara

i love it when tourists stop me at the corner of 43rd and 7th and ask, ''where's 42nd street?''

Or when they say ''Hewston Street.''

Or ''Avenue of the Americas.''

Guest
Guest

"I drive a Dodge Stratus!"

Guest
Guest

I'm a fast walker and I do experience these feelings. Where I live stupid people walk on the bike path with no awareness of anything going on around them and then get angry when you either 1. pass them without saying "excuse me" or 2. say "excuse me" and *startle* them.

however, when this type of aggressive reaction leads to one of these "fast walkers" being pummeled they will possibly step back and get some perspective.

Also, people, technique! It's not enough to be fast, you have to anticipate and you occasionally shift course a little. If you're going to walk like it's a competitive sport you need to step up your game. That obstacle in front of you is to be gotten around, not over.

Dolores Wetter
Dolores Wetter

This article is somewhat true. I am a New Yorker from birth and find New Yorks amazingly nice and not at all the aggressive sort that is desribed in this article. Yes we do get impatience with slow walkers, but slow walkers also are wrong by not giving the right away to a person who has a life and has places to go. The reason New York is New York is because we move and lap up life at a passionate pass. Passion is the word missing in the narrow minded article about the greatest folks in the world.My name is Dolores Wetter.

Grillage
Grillage

Bloomberg should have a thousand crop dusting planes spay Valium all over the city. Maybe then people will slow down and relax.

AlexS_NYC
AlexS_NYC

Whenever someone from the midwest asks me what it's like to live in New York, I talk about how crowded the sidewalks are and how you want to shove people out of the way. It's one of the common experiences we all share.

It's right up there with staring at your feet so as not to appear creepy when someone really attractive is jammed up next to you in a crowded subway.

Keith
Keith

This is HILARIOUS!!! I get this crap out here in CA. Dang it, I love my inner New Yawka that CA just can't suck outta me.

Carol Kevin
Carol Kevin

When I have a fast walker behind me I just stop dead. I know, I'm a bad person, but it makes me feel better.

Hulk angry...hulk smash!
Hulk angry...hulk smash!

According to this list.... I suffer from 4 of these symptoms... but this study forgot those people who are walking the same pace in front of you and abruptly stop all of a sudden. Nothing boils my blood more than a person who thinks they're the frickin' King of the Sidewalk' and make you bump into them. Oh and the people going the opposite way...sometimes bump into you....that gets me ticked too. But I just stick my elbows out and bum rush people who are going the opposite way who are passing waaay to close to me.

Loudobbs
Loudobbs

Common scenario, clueless person (not necessarily a tourist) walks in front of you without looking where they are going, then stops and acts surprised when they turn around and you are right there. "Oh you scared me!"

Swan
Swan

The good walkers don't get mentioned here at all. I found that in nyc and tokyo for instance that people are really aware of their surroundings and their small personal space. They walk fast and maneuver around each other so quickly that no one even knows there was a maneuver at all. Ya it gets hostile and messed up sometimes when different walking styles are in conflict, but generally this is working out well and not badly. There's good but painful comedy when you then take these big city fast walkers to a smaller city and that's just a mess. I think they make movies about that.

Amy
Amy

One of the reasons for sidewalk rage seems to have been left out of the debate here: we're not walking for fun; we're walking because we need to get somewhere, such as work or appointments. Unfortunately there isn't a section of NYC set aside just for the tourists, and we have to work or live in the same places they want to see. It's not like they're in Disney World where everything is set up just for their pleasure.

The tourists' slowness can have real consequences for some of us: being docked wages or being sent home from work, for instance. I worked somewhere where they sent us home if we were 5 minutes late. It can result in missing bus or train connections. Being late to an appointment or class. And so on. You can say "leave extra time" or "take another route" but that just isn't always feasible. And even when you are leaving extra time, hitting tour groups en route can still slow you down enough to make you late.

Sooooo...if I'm walking down the street and I'm trying to get around a bunch of tourists who are making me late...yes, I'm going to be angry or upset. I appreciate that they are in New York. I'd appreciate them even more if they realized that some of us LIVE HERE and had some respect for that.

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

LOL, tell you what New York... We'll take those 47 million tourists(2008) and the $30 BILLION they spent and go somewhere where they don't whine all day long about the effect of their cash cow.

Glad to say I have had no real desire to go to New York. You people can keep it.

Elreylatino13
Elreylatino13

Yes I have a rage...at the people too busy looking down at their cell phone or ipod and not paying attention to where they are walking. They bump into people walking down a busy and crowded sidewalk. Not a care in the world.

ND
ND

Is it possible to have sidewalk rage in Louisiana? People down here are slow in more ways that just walking on sidewalks. grrr.

brad
brad

To all of you (native and not), hit a gym, do (a whole lot of) tai chi, maybe use a treadmill or join a running club, and put down the sticks of butter. I can't hyperbolize how many NYCers walk too slowly and/or just can't maneuver their bodies. The financial district seems like the worst part of town for this, but it's pretty endemic of the island.

And then there are the 'ragers' who end up eating pavement because they cannot spot those of us who've been through years of self defense and training for something much more important than handling idiots who want to take up the whole sidewalk.

I can't tell you (okay, three times?) how many people have thought they were forcing me off the curb of the street only to bounce off my shoulder and crash into the pavement behind me. Unbelievable.

Like I said, to 99.9% of you: tai chi, exercise, put down the butter. And stop hating on the tourists, bless them, avoid those areas and get in shape.

Igor
Igor

I want to fight most of you commentors. Get the fuck out of my way. My idea of hell is to be forever 2 blocks away and 5 minutes late to something and be stuck behind slow moving tourists in Times Square.

If you want to fucking look at something, stand off to the side. Don't just stop 3 people wide in the middle of the god damned sidewalk. I am comfortably in my bed right now and this is giving me walker rage.

keith_seattle
keith_seattle

i would like to see this study augmented to include the rage i feel at slow-moving, meandering 'millennials' who are texting

Hooksets
Hooksets

I'd secretly like to elbow- jab the eyes of impatient, inconsiderate, always in-a-hurry, always late, self-serving boneheads. In a hurry to get NOWHERE

Saiko
Saiko

Ha couldn't it be said that it's the slowbags who are "uncaringly hogging a walking lane" and "Hogging or blocking the passageway, acting uncaring or unaware"? And "Expressing pedestrian rage against a driver" is not a symptom--it's perfectly normal to get upset when you're nearly killed.

StM
StM

I am a New Yorker, and I think we should all learn a bit from slow walkers.

It's the fast, aggressive, pushy walkers who are the problem.

Mark
Mark

That was obnoxious, and too close to reality to be funny at all.

NY state o mind
NY state o mind

I am a New Yorker born and bred and not immune to being annoyed by slow walkers. In defense of tourists, they are spending money and come here to actually "see stuff". How many New Yorkers (myself included) have been remiss in taking advantage of all the cool things New York City has to offer? Why? It is because it is taken for granted.

To make an analogy, who do you get more excited to see, a boyfriend you haven't seen for weeks or one whose mug is in yours daily? Ok, I've gotten off topic.

My point is to have some patience and let people/tourists enjoy themselves. It may be their first or only time to do so and it should be a good experience. I have spoken with some really cool people visiting our city and provided directions and help. We are all tourists at some point.

Now, with that out of the way, the people that need a whack on the noggin are those who non-stop text while walking with total disregard to those around them. A lot of them are NOT tourists.

I love New York. :)

guest
guest

Oh yes baby, I've just discovered money making backup plan #7. Go to new york, walk slowly and get hurt by some raging tard in the process, get it all on camera, and sue to my hearts delight, rinse and repeat.

Tanya
Tanya

Ha, they didn't mention my favorite technique -- come up behind the slow walker and cough on them!

Azra
Azra

During the evening rush hour one day a girl walking painfully slowly in front of me out of the Delancey St. station came to a complete halt while we were going through the revolving door. When the bars hit her inevitably in the calf she turned around and looked at me accusingly. It all boils down to common sense. Get some, people!

Evan
Evan

Other commenters are commenting too slowly!!!

HOLY COW
HOLY COW

A FINE LADY FROM NYC,

IF YOU DIDN'T LIKE OUR FAIR CITY YOU WOULDN'T COME HERE AND SPEND YOUR MONEY. WE ARE THE GREATEST AND YOU KNOW IT.

Guest
Guest

Actually his method of having psychotherapists prescribe it to everyone is a much more eloquent and efficient delivery system

Smartalek
Smartalek

Out of our $1.13 TRILLION (I have a capslock key too!) total economy (2005), you can keep your cash kitten's pocket change.We'll more than make up the difference with the greater productivity we'll attain when we're not constantly getting stuck behind your rubbernecking selves, all stopping to stare up at All! Them! Tall! Buildings! Mildred!

Greg Shue
Greg Shue

By the way, it's worst for me when pedestrians stop immediately after crossing the street, thereby preventing others in the crosswalk from accessing the sidewalk, especially if the light turns and there are cars coming!

Mordaunt0
Mordaunt0

uhhh cool story bro

wtf are you talking about?

Guest
Guest

LOL! I live in Chicago, but I know exactly what you're talking about!

My personal pedestrian pet peeve: People who walk on the WRONG side of the sidewalk! OK? Look, I am proud to live in the most diverse neighborhood in the country, but it's still in the USA, OK? We drive on the right, pass on the left. We WALK on the right, pass on the left! Gggggggggrrrrrrrrr... I actually asked an offender one time (I think he was from Jamaica, based on his accent) why he walks on the wrong side of the sidewalk. He said, "This is America. You can do whatever you want!" I said, "No you can't. We drive on the right, you should walk on the right!"

Jay from Dallas
Jay from Dallas

Igor, you sound like the type that leaves home 15 minutes late for everything and then blames everyone else because you can't keep a schedule. I visit NY every year or two....I just can't get enough of the place. I'll be the guy strolling along enjoying the city.

Jhrufus
Jhrufus

OH MY GOD!!! You give a bad name to New Yorkers!!!I am also a New Yorker born and bred and have enjoyed myself showing off this city to family.Last fall when I brought my son to Times Square at night to experience it in all it's glory, a bike messenger almost tipped him over in his wheelchair to get around us which btw, we were in the crosswalk!! IWTH people, you wouldn't have your job in the largest city in the US without all of those tourists flooding your local economy!!I will also say that a hot dog vendor and delivery truck driver almost beat the crap out of the messenger after witnessing it which of course made me feel better but because they were showing real respect for another human being!! Try it sometime or move!!

Smartalek
Smartalek

No disrespect intended (just the opposite), but I think, if you undertake some due diligence, you'll find sneezing works better.It's more blatant, less likely to be ignored (or unnoticed), and (most important) more likely to result in the slowpoke's actually catching something.Maybe the nice scientists can do a proper double-blind comparative study so we'll know for sure.

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

"I have a capslock key too!)"

To quote the Church Lady:"Well isn't that special?"

Do you go potty all by yourself, too?

Amy
Amy

Oh yes. And they do this getting off trains and escalators, too. They don't seem to understand they can hurt someone that way.

Look. I understand that if you're new to NYC you don't know where you are and you might need a moment to collect yourself and figure out where to go next. I understand that the trains are confusing. For the love of God, though, understand that the people behind you need to get out of the street/off the train/off the escalator too!

brad
brad

lol, your supercilious mother in a lascivious mobius. catch you at the polo rugby store, 'brah'

Guest
Guest

wow...brad, you're a colossal tool. But that's another great thing about NYC: a complete jerkoff like you is just as welcome here.

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