The Hornblower Guide to Walking in New York City

Many people are afraid that when they come to New York City they will be identified as tourists immediately by the way they walk. This is pretty much true. Unfortunately, most people’s response to this apprehension is not the sensible one, which would be to walk more like a New Yorker and less like a little meatball that just sprouted legs and learned how to propel itself for the first time in the history of meatball. Instead, they resort to exaggerating their puffy, rotund, flyover-state walks, so that for certain stretches of Broadway the fastest way down the street may well be crowd-surfing. But it does not have to be that way. If everyone simply followed the Hornblower Essential Tips for the New York City Pedestrian, the streets of New York would be alleviated of much of their congestion and people would spend less time walking places, giving them more time to work on productive projects like jellyfish pictures and chillwave EPs.

Keep Moving This is the golden rule, far more important than any other, and for good reason. New Yorkers do not stop, do not question where they are going and do not slow down and debate which way to go while they’re approaching an intersection with a WALK sign. If you need to check your iPhone to make sure you’re heading in the right direction, do what everyone else does and duck into a Starbucks or, better yet, a phonebooth. You’ll be out of everyone’s way, and once you rejoin the flow you’ll know exactly where you’re going, giving you the confidence to keep up with the swarm.

If You Can’t Walk Faster, at Least Walk Smarter Contrary to popular fear, fast walkers are generally not opposed to slow walkers on principle; rather, their loathing comes from those instances in which a subpar walker slows a New Yorker down. In these cases the New Yorker may release pent-up frustrations with slow walkers in the past whom he had been lucky to avoid. The unfortunate offending tourist suffers not just for his own sins, but for those of his forebears as well.

Walk Two-Abreast; Three, Max One of the most common ways out-of-towners commit these transgressions is by walking along together with the whole group side-by-side across the whole goddamn sidewalk. Now, one meanderer, two, usually even three is no problem, just scoot around the right side at the next gap in the scaffolding. But you get up to four, five, six people strolling along like Dorothy and friends, and then you get the front lines of Kim Jong Un’s army coming from the other side, it gets harder and harder to wind and sprint yourself through the crush and to your destination.

Umbrella Etiquette Rules about umbrellas are often contentious, contended and controversial. Most agree that the size of the umbrella should be strictly proportional to the size of the person or persons it covers. It should be held straight up, with the holding arm kept tight to the body, unless there is such a wind that the whole block has initiated an incredibly synched and precise universal lean, in which case the chief duty is to the lean. There has been no real progress in the etiquette of the umbrella raise-or-lower. Certain camps claim that while passing each on the other’s left (as in roads in the United States), the taller pedestrian should raise his umbrella, while the shorter of the two kind of tried to squat down a little, or at least pretend to do so that the tall one didn’t feel like he was doing all the work. Others claim that that method is just worthless bullshit and that the authors just sit around sucking each other’s dicks all day.

Bicycles Are you kidding me? Unless you’re Lance Armstrong or Pee-Wee Herman, don’t ride one. Not even if you live in an enlightened, bike-friendly European city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen. You’ll probably get killed if you ride like you’re in Northern Europe.

Cars Why are we even talking about cars? I thought this was a column about walking? This is a much worse decision than bikes, unless you are using them strictly to get out of the city. Driving a car in the city is annoying enough for New Yorkers, and we know where everything is. Chasing down landmarks makes it easy to miss what you’re going through to get there. Opt to take a city bus instead and get a glimpse into the actual transportation experience of the average New Yorker. And you don’t have to worry about getting gas, getting hit, or getting a ticket.

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