Do people walk to the left in other countries?

U.S. we driving on the right. We also walk to the right on sidewalks.

I know places like the UK drive on the left side of the road. Do they walk on the left when using a sidewalk?

Is walking to the left the norm anywhere in the world?


I was in London for a day a couple of years ago. I was driven to my destination on a divided highway. I never got the feeling I was on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

But passing people in the hallway was totally confusing. I was screwing everybody up, because I was walking on the right hand side of the hallway.

We drive on the left and I walk on the left and, if I’m standing on an escalator, I stand on the left. There’s no ‘rule’ as such but I wish it would become more customary because it’d make navigating footpaths and so on a lot simpler.

In the UK we tend to pass on the left, but stand on the right on an escalator, leaving the left ‘lane’ free for people walking up/down it.

I’ve read that before and it’s never made sense to me. I try to stand on the left and pass on the right, as I do in a car but people here seem to stand wherever they want, making it necessary to do the zig-zag walk up if one wants to go faster.

When I moved to New Zealand (which like the UK drives on the left) from the US, I found walking on the left to be common. When I tried walking on the right on sidewalks, I always found myself bucking traffic. I eventually started walking on the left as well.

Among other NZ things to get used to was that the light switches were upside down (on is down rather than up in the US) and the rotary phone dials (this was the 1980s) were also in reverse.

Well if you’re visiting, don’t do it on major escalators in the UK. On, e.g. the London Underground there are signs asking you to stand on the right. If you stood on the left you would get people piling up behind you tutting and coughing politely, saying ‘excuse me’ and possibly writing letters to their MP.

Oh, I’d follow the local custom; I’m not a maverick or anything. It’s just that it feels counter-intuitive to me.

NZ rotary dials went the other way? I must investigate this, I had no idea.

They rotated clockwise like other rotary phones, but were numbered in reverse (9 to 0) instead of from 1 to 0like other phones.

I was told it had something to do with the patent, but I don’t know that for certain.

So, do the foreign weirdos go through a revolving door on the left too? Every once in a while i see someone do that, and wonder if they are just being deliberately contrary, or just don’t know any better.

A note from our last discussion of this topic:

Peter Kincaid addresses this in his book* The Rule of the Road: An International Guide to History and Practice.* Greenwood Press, 1986. ISBN 0-313-25249-1, LC 86-354. From p. 37:

“in places where no rule is enforced there seems to be a natural tendency for pedestrians to keep to the right, whichever rule is observed by road traffic… . Whether or not this practice results from a natural tendency of a right-handed person to turn to the right, I cannot say. This practice was until recently recognized as a rule in England.”

My anecdote (Australian) is given sufficient room - no real pattern, so perhaps when leaving an open space to a less open one, you might randomly end up on the right.

But narrower traffic zones such as staircases, definitely keep left. Except escalators, where it’s “wherever most effectively blocks passage for those who haven’t forgotten how to walk”

I’ve been driving in Thailand so long, I had for the driver’s door on the right-side automatically.

But, I seldom ride as passenger here. Since most of my passenger training still derives from U.S., when I’m to be passenger here I head straight for the “passenger door” … on the right-side. :smack:

Many years ago in Sydney there were lines marked on the city footpaths (not in the 'burbs, though) and signs were painted asking pedestrians to keep to the left. People did and I kind of wish the lines and signs would come back - it would make for easier navigation of the paths.

I don’t think there’s any convention here for walking on left/right, it’s just a freeforall methinks. I’m aware of the London Underground rule but I’m not sure if such rules exist for escalators here.

Londoners most definitely walk on the right, which is different to New Zealand where people walk on the left. I was like a salmon fighting my way upstream on my first trip to London! :smiley:

When I read this, I realized I always just assumed they simply wouldn’t spin in the wrong direction. I’ve never seen anyone go the opposite direction in one, and I’ve never tried, myself.

I’ve wondered this myself; there are any number of people I encounter regularly who are trying to walk on the left, when everyone else is walking on the right here. I have wondered if they come from a place where the norm is walking on the left; even so, after living here for a while, wouldn’t they notice that everyone else is doing it differently?

I have observed this, too, and it makes me wonder: do Londoners do it on their own accord or are they influenced by all us right thinking foreigners?

Did the water in the toilet spin the other way when it flushed?