Winter walking is a lot like winter driving

Credit: Esther Gibbons/

It’s official — as much as I hate to admit it — winter has fully arrived in Montreal and it’s taken over the city entirely. In the past few weeks we’ve had massive amounts of snow dumped on our heads which is, inevitably, making the fine art of traversing streets and sidewalks a complete and utter hell. I love Christmas and all, but I could do without the piles of snow taking over my driveway, roads, sidewalks — my life.

While winter driving becomes somewhat of an art here, it’s not just about the way we drive during the winter that brought to mind this soon-to-be poignant blog post.

Yesterday, as I was trudging up to the gym on my lunch hour, I came to the realization that winter walking is (or at least should be) a lot like winter driving.

As the sidewalks get slushier, snowier and generally impossible to walk on, pedestrians need to take a hint from motorists and act accordingly. In a span of one block I encountered 4 pedestrians who chose to take up the entire plowed portion while I was forced into the snowbank to get around them (and nearly crashed head-on into one guy because we were both walking in the traditional Canadian fashion; head down, shoulders hunched, hood up, shuffling), while another decided to walk right in the middle at a snail’s pace so it was impossible to pass them.

And so I’ve decided to offer winter walking tips to my fellow Canadians (and of course, anyone who lives in this frigid hell of a season):

  • Respect your side of the sidewalk
  • Depending on which direction you’re headed in, keep to your side. Follow the flow of automotive traffic and stay to the appropriate side. If you choose to pass someone, make sure you return to your designated side as soon as the pass is complete. Do not weave. Stay in your lane.

  • If you have to stop, pull over
  • Too often have I been blocked by someone who has suddenly decided they need to stop dead in order to check their iPhone in the middle of the sidewalk. This tends to cause a major traffic jam, especially if the sidewalk is narrowly plowed. Consider your fellow pedestrians and step off the plowed section so you allow everyone else to continue their journey so you can fiddle with your apps in piece.

  • If you’re changing lanes, check your blind spots
  • The bigger the winter coat, the better. A huge, fur-lined hood is pure bliss when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing. However, the larger the jacket and hood, the larger the blind spot. Instead of rudely cutting off your fellow winter walker, take a moment to actually turn your head, pull back the hood and look. I know, it requires some effort, but it could mean the difference between a pleasant lane-change and a snowy, slippery collision.

  • Have some respect
  • My newly pregnant coworker was walking to her train after a long day of work in a winter wonderland cityscape; she chose to walk in the only clear section, the road. There was really only one tire track that was snow-free and not slippery. As she made her way along the single track mark, a man was walking towards her head-on. So, they played a bit of winter chicken before she was forced into the slippery, ankle-deep snow as he continued on his way in the clear, safe tire marks. Does anyone else see a problem with this? Perhaps this individual was a real asshole douche (I don’t doubt that), but I’m quite sure he’s not the only one who’s done this. Respect your fellow winter walker: we’re all suffering the same cold conditions.

    Short of outfitting future winterwear with taillights and turn signals, there really isn’t much more we can do as winter walkers besides being aware of the world and people around us and having some compassion and consideration. Much like the art of winter driving.

    Drive (walk) on,
    – M.

    ~ by drivingmsmiranda on December 16, 2010.

    2 Responses to “Winter walking is a lot like winter driving”

    1. That is so true in my neck of the woods as well. Plus I wish more people would actually shovel their walks or put some snad down.

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