Twelve Helpful Pedestrian Tips

Paris, Île-de-France, France
November 22, 2014

Single File

Having wandered all over this fair . . . or is it fare . . . City, I have several suggestions that may be useful to the Paris Chamber of Commerce and handy tips for your foot loose and not so fancy free visitor.

No. 1    There should be fast and slow lanes and no stopping zones on Paris sidewalks. I myself deserve a diamond lane. Beware the situationally unaware pedestrian in front of you that either cruises at a snail’s pace, usually with two equally challenged speed demons, one on each side, or the pedestrian usually right in front of you who stops abruptly without brake lights or a hand signal.

No. 2   You new bipedal tourists? When you feel the need to access your handy “Where-the-hell-am-I-in-Paris” app on your smart phone, first gradually pull to the building side of the sidewalk or position yourself on the eddy side of a lightpost before stopping to pull out your phone. Do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk and then search for your phone in whatever pocket you thought would most thwart pickpockets.

No. 3     There are more Russians in Paris than Frenchman. Strike that . . . there are more Russians in Paris than Russians in Moscow. They are everywhere! I heard more Russian walking on the streets of Paris in two weeks than I did in three quarters of Russian at U.C. Davis.

The Russians are Coming

No. 4.   There are more shoe stores than Russians. Mon dieu! These people love their chaussures.

No. 5   Fashion tip! . . . boots are “in”

No. 6.   You middle age men will remember “Electric Football” from our youth. . . .The game where a metal surface was electrically activated and small football players danced around in no particular direction seemingly out of control. This is much the same as you will encounter in any large courtyard, place, jardin, or the like where large numbers of Parisians gather.

Plaza Electric Football

No. 7   The UBC or Uniform Building Code requirements for the depth and height for stair treads was codified long after Paris was built. Hand rails, where available on the street or in your hotel, should be used at all times.

DSCN0714 2.jpg
Stairway near Sacre Coeur
Stairway in my Hotel

No. 8   There are no pedestrian activated signals. There are, however, pedestrian deactivating busses.

No. 9    I’m afraid it is true. I wanted to refute this common stereotype, but my studies have found it true . . . Americans are loud. You can hear them a block away

No. 10   If a Parisian bumps into you forcefully and apologizes profusely . . . immediately check your pockets.

No. 11   Note to those of you who, like me, have balance problems, either due to small feet or inner ear issues . . . when standing in a subway train, firmly plant your feet wide apart , your legs parallel to the direction of travel , your feet perpedicular to the direction of travel, so as to avoid the “urban sprawl” that will occur when you lose your balance on acceleration of the subway and fly head first into the crowd.

No. 12   Do not . . . I repeat . . . DO NOT, . . . opt for the Segway. (There’s a reason they issue helmets)

Segway Safety Lessons near Eiffel Tower


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