Keep Your Eyes On Their Feet To Cut Through Large Crowds Like Butter

Keep Your Eyes On Their Feet To Cut Through Large Crowds Like Butter

You know when you’re walking through a large crowd and end up in step with someone else, then have to do that all-too-familiar back-and-forth dance until someone breaks free and you go around each other? Wired wants to help you avoid this.

Over at their How-To Wiki, tech culture site Wired offers a few quick tips for walking through crowds without getting caught in that dance or running into people. Some of the tips may sound obvious (e.g. “watch where you walk”), but it’s also full of good reason. For example:

To get on autopilot, pedestrian-style, look down at the feet of the people around you. The head and torso are lagging indicators and often give you bad information with regards to the speed and direction people are travelling. All that information is in the feet.

  • Don’t look directly forward. Your gaze is generally perpendicular to your body, usually 90 degrees. Reduce that angle, making it tighter as your space becomes more crowded.
  • Be aware of how crowded your “personal zone” is — use a 6-foot radius as a rule of thumb. Less than six people isn’t too crowded, so move as you would normally, but watch people’s feet as they enter your zone.
  • If there are six people within your zone, that’s a crowd and you should be looking down at all times. Gaze at the floor about 6 feet ahead.
  • If there are 10 or more people in your zone, look almost straight down, between 1 and 2 feet ahead. At this density, you will be in full defensive mode, moving forward overall but tacking and spurting, slowing down and speeding up as you go.
  • Evade, don’t invade. Change direction often to slip behind people rather than rushing to cut them off.

Got your own tried-and-true tips for making it through a crowded space? Tell us about them in the comments. Photo by Mr T in DC.

Walk Through Crowds [Wired]


  • Always look at the horizon. People part for you. It’s uncanny.

    As soon as you look down etc, then you’re guaranteed to do the awkward “walk around you dance” with a stranger.

  • also my trick is to pretend your attention is elsewhere, like that window shop, etc etc. people will assume you’re not paying attention and will move out of your way.

  • After a lifetime of dealing with crowds at places like the Gabba, the only bit of advice here that I agree with is “Evade, don’t invade. Change direction often to slip behind people rather than rushing to cut them off.”

    Looking at feet is probably the worst possible thing to do because you are literally looking no further than one step ahead, whereas in a crowd you actually want to be looking as many steps ahead as possible. Spot a gap or a part of the crowd where everyone is moving the same direction as you and then find the easiest path to it.

    Not sure if any of the makes sense, at this point it’s much more instinctive movements than anything I can explain.

  • I usually just stand still and wait for the other person to move by.

    Its hilarious how many people still go through the little dance by themselves to get around you, even when you’re standing perfectly still.

  • Just walk straight.

    Only strafe to overtake.

    Do not sidestep to avoid head on collisions. Just stop and wait and they will move.

    Accept the fact that you’re gonna cop a few bumps.


    Dont shower

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