Going to class is part of any student’s day-to-day, hopefully. Getting to class is almost as important as the class itself, and can easily act as an indicator for how the day will go. There are many modes of sidewalk transportation that can be witnessed around Northwestern, and they vary from the very mundane to the incredibly unique. Here’s a quick list to help even the most transportation-ally confused!
1. Walking: This is clearly the most common mode of sidewalk transportation at Northwestern. That doesn’t mean, though, that everyone walks in the same universal way.
a. First and foremost, there’s the strolling walk. This walk is mainly used by students who leave themselves enough time to casually walk to class, meetings, and lunch dates. But for those, like myself, who prefer to sleep until the very last minute, this walk can prove incredibly frustrating. Groups of “casual walkers” can take up the whole sidewalk on Sheridan and getting stuck behind even a solo slow walker can make you go from running late to full on running and late.
b. The “run-walk,” what I like to think of as the biggest sidewalk faux pas. First of all, you’re not actually running. As late as you think you’re going to be, odds are you’re not going to full on sprint from Tech to Harris. It’s just not going to happen. So what ends up occurring is a ridiculous run-walk-jog thing, complete with backpack and jacket flapping around, heavy breathing, and you looking like an idiot. You can be five minutes late to class, or you can be seven minutes late and not look like a fool.
c. How do you avoid the tool-run-walk-jog? It’s simple. Just pick up the pace on your regular walk. This becomes walking type number three. The New York walk, also called the Mom walk: this can become a lifesaver in that it helps you get to class on time as well as aids you in not pissing off those walking behind you. Being from New York myself, and having a mother who could easily win a walking race against Olympic walkers, I never thought I walked quickly until I arrived here at Northwestern. Since arrival I’ve been passing kids on Sheridan, walking on the grass if needed, and silently cursing their slow meandering.
d. The only walk worse (and by that I mean slower) than the stroll is a less common walk, though an extremely distinguishable one. This is the “dance walk.” This form of walking can be easily spotted by its often intriguing style. Dance walkers don’t usually care about their speed, and are usually the most frustrating as they end up walking in less than a straight line, which makes them super difficult to pass.
2. Bicycles: A close second to walking, biking is one of the favorite modes of transport of Northwestern students. Bike riders are often a different breed than walkers, as they feel empowered by their height and speed. Many bikers on the thin sidewalks around Sargent or even on Sheridan can be seen as reckless, probably due to the fact that they are. Usually content with passing you on the grass, some bikers will slow down behind you, expecting you to read their minds and get out of the way. It is also a life-changing experience to see a bike coming at you down a hilly path (like between the SPAC parking lot and Sargent) with the rider looking like he/she has no control. Especially coming from a kid who can’t ride a bike, bicycles on campus are extremely frightening and can only be rivaled by the random car that has to squeeze between the Seminary and Annenberg.
3. Scooters and Longboards: I’m grouping scooters and longboards together due to the fact that they’re very similar in my book. Both seem impractical and exert way too much effort for very similar results to walking. The main difference is that longboarding looks cooler. Until you fall off…then you look almost as bad as the run-walker. And FYI, you look ridiculous on that scooter. Almost everyone is too big for it and then has to bend down like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hint: just stick to walking, please.
4. Unicycle: I’ve only seen “unicycle guy” a few times on Sheridan, but most people know him or have at least heard of his legend. I personally have no problem with unicycles, but I do think they could be the least effective mode of transportation. I’d also wager that they’re the least comfortable. But hey, whatever floats your boat! And, if you do ride a unicycle to class, good news is you can always do this with your future!
I hope to see a change in Northwestern’s sidewalk transportation with the release of this article. As a New Yorker, the slow walking is probably the worst for me, and as a non-bike rider, bicycles around campus are definitely the scariest. In any case, it always excites me to see a new mode of transport around campus, and I look forward to seeing how the ways of getting to class change as winter approaches.