Sidewalk-Raging New Yorkers Secretly Want to Punch Tourists in the Head


In New York City, we have all sorts of rage that other people from other places don’t get to have. Many of those rages are proximity-based. Because there are a lot of us, and we like to get to where we’re going in a hurry. Damn right! The Wall Street Journal has dissected the phenomenon of sidewalk rage, revealing important learnings to anyone who hopes to imitate a real New Yorker. In doing so, they have also uncovered some intriguing stats. Did you know that we walk at an average speed of 4.27 feet per second?

In a mere second, you speedy New Yorker, you have moved the approximate height of a very short human, or perhaps a child. Aimless, meandering tourists, however, walk a mere 3.79 feet per second. No wonder we hate them so.

But now our hatred is scientific. Yes, scientists have determined that sidewalk rage is a real thing.

One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.

Make that 15,001. The scientists don’t like that.

“We’re trying to understand what makes people angry, what that experience is like,” says Jerry Deffenbacher, a professor at Colorado State University who studies anger and road rage. “For those for whom anger is a personal problem, we’re trying to develop and evaluate ways of helping them.”

You know what makes us angry, Deffenbacher? When an “academic” like you tries to figure out what makes us angry! Anyway, if you have sidewalk rage, or any rage, you probably know it. But if you don’t know it, the Journal has some clues to identifying yourself:

Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a “mean face,” or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.


* Having denigrating thoughts about other pedestrians
* Walking by a slower-moving pedestrian and cutting back too soon (feels hostile or rude)
* Feeling competitive with other pedestrians
* Acting in a hostile manner (staring, presenting a mean face, moving faster or closer than expected)
* Feeling stress and impatience when walking in a crowded area (crosswalk, staircase, mall, store, airport, street, beach, park, etc.)
* Walking much faster than the rest of the people
* Not yielding when it’s the polite thing to do
* Walking on the left of a crowded passageway where most pedestrians walk on the right
* Muttering at other pedestrians
* Bumping into others
* Not apologizing when expected (after bumping by accident or coming very close in attempting to pass)
* Making insulting gestures
* Hogging or blocking the passageway, acting uncaring or unaware
* Expressing pedestrian rage against a driver (like insulting or throwing something)
* Feeling enraged at other pedestrians and enjoying thoughts of violence

Well, that’s just life, isn’t it?

Psychologists say we should calm down and pretend the pedestrian is “lost or confused,” but we know that already and we still just want to punch them in the head, except that would only backfire and make them walk slower. Campaign to make the Tourists/New Yorkers sidewalk line an enforceable reality?

Get Out of My Way, You Jerk! [WSJ]