New Rules for Social Distancing While Walking

This is a guest blog post by Jen Udler of Positive Strides Therapy. Jennifer is a licensed clinical social worker in Maryland. She has 20 years of experience treating children, adolescents, and adults.  She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness, and supportive counseling.  

As a walk-and-talk therapist, I continue to walk and move with my clients, many of whom are home alone and desperately craving in-person connections.  We maintain our distance throughout the session and maneuver around fellow pedestrians.

Here, I have shared some thoughts that may be helpful for pedestrians (and other road users) in the new day of the coronavirus. 

After many recent walks, I have noticed some confusion about what to do when we encounter fellow walkers. For example, how do we keep our allotted 6-10 feet distance without inconveniencing each other too much? 

These rules are general guidelines (not strict traffic rules), much like courteous social skills.

  1. Be more aware of those around you than usual.
  2. If you see someone walking towards you, stay as far to your right as possible.
  3. Try to look ahead, and see if you need to cross the street to avoid a run-in.
  4. If the path is less than 6-feet wide, try to stand off the path at a safe distance.
  5. When a faster jogger is approaching you from the rear, move off the path to allow them to pass if possible.
  6. If you are the faster jogger, politely call out “passing on your left”.
  7. Bikers, beware! Bikers (and other riders or rollers) please announce your imminent arrival.
  8. Bikers (and other riders or rollers), please also maintain a safe 6-foot distance while passing.  If you must dismount, and stand on the grass, please do so.
  9. Using clear hand motions that indicate where you are going, can be helpful.
  10. If someone is clearly older or less mobile than you, please give them the appropriate right of way.
  11. If you see a young child, keep in mind, that they may not understand what is going on.  It’s also quite possible that they did not read this list! Please also give them the right of way.
  12. Smile, be friendly, go out of your way to say “hello”, “good morning”, or “nice day out”.  

We are still social beings, and there’s nothing unsafe about a friendly greeting!

Please feel free to download and share the graphics below.
a list of best practices for social distance walking

a list of best practices for social distance walking