The Science Of Sidewalk Rage

A story on sidewalk rage is all the rage right now, thanks to the Wall Street Journal.

Do you get impatient in a crowded area? Bump into others, or act in a hostile manner by staring or giving them a mean face when they walk too slowly? Have you ever thought about punching slow walking people in the back of the head?

If so, you could be suffering from Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome, otherwise known as “sidewalk rage†.

There’s even a Facebook group called “I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head† with more than 15,000 members. The “I Secretly Want To Trip Fast Walking People† Facebook group has only 62 members, however.

At its most extreme sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,† the Wall Street Journal reports.

Researchers are now looking into what triggers such rage and what that experience is like according to a scientist at Colorado State University quoted in the story who studies anger and road rage.

But what about distracted pedestrians?

I think we can all relate to the challenges of sharing the sidewalk with cell phone talkers or text and walkers.

Finally, the WSJ notes that people slow down when distracted by other activities too. It cites a 2006 study by the City of New York and the NYC Department of City Planning that showed smokers walk 2.3 percent slower than the average walker’s 4.27 feet per second, while cell phone talkers walk 1.6 percent slower.

A recent New York Times article looked at the growing dangers of distracted pedestrians.

The problem has prompted lawmakers in several states to introduce legislation that would ban the use of cell phones, iPods or other electronic devices by people running or walking on the street or sidewalk.

Maybe it’s not just anger management, but electronic gadget management – on the roads and sidewalks – that we all need.

Check out I.I.I. information on distracted driving.

2 thoughts on “The Science Of Sidewalk Rage”

  1. I think NYCers just need to relax a little bit. We all get annoyed at some point because of the crowded streets, but taking a minute to breathe and reflect on what’s actually important in life is the cure.

  2. I was watching the BBC the other day about one journalist conducting a funny survey about this kind of issue on one of the busy streets in London. The journalist had drawn a line in the middle of the pedestrian road and asked passers-by to use either the fast lane or the slow lane and they were all complying with the rule…except for some who questioned if this was a reality show or something.

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