Passing on the right/left

Related to the “sidewalk dance” column, I noticed J.G. proposed that passing on the right was the “right” way to do it.

'Way back when there were pedestrians walking along roads without sidewalks, the rule was to walk on the left side of the road. When approaching another pedestrian on a sidewalk, therefore, it made just as much sense to adopt “pass on the left” as “pass on the right.”

Which just might account for some of the awkdancing that we experience: there is no convention for passing.


Some time ago, my family and I moved to Germany for business - we lived there about 5 years. My wife and I both noticed, right after we first got there, that we were having a lot more of these sidewalk dances than we ever did back home.

We tried to figure it out - finally chalked it up to some kind of subconscious communication. After a year or two, we stopped having this problem.

Hah! Then we moved to the UK. That’s a whole 'nother story.