In Crowded New York City, ‘Sidewalk Rage’ Is A Common Occurrence

NEW YORK (WCBS-TV) — With too many people, and too little space, patience seems to be wearing thin on the streets of New York City these days.

It’s leading to an increase in incidents on the sidewalk.

“You get bumped, you get pushed,” Jonathan Alpert said.

Crowding on the sidewalks isn’t new, but most would agree it’s getting worse. It’s enough to cause some to lose their cool with what scientists have coined ‘sidewalk rage.’

“I have been the victim of sidewalk rage. I’ve had people scream and shout at me, threaten to spit on me,” Alpert said.

Alpert’s office is located in one of Manhattan’s busiest areas — 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.

“I see so much sidewalk rage on my walk to work,” he said.

A study published in the Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry found sidewalk rage occurs in two directions. On the one side are pedestrians who rage against walkers who impede on their forward progression. On the other are passive aggressive pedestrians who act unaware of uncaring when impeding others.

When the two collide, you have what the study calls ‘a community in crisis.’

The NYPD doesn’t keep statistics on sidewalk rage, but there’s no lack of anecdotal evidence. There’s even a Facebook page called ‘I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People In The Back Of The Head.’

“It’s awful,” Mike Chiavaroli said.

Chiavaroli and Kieran Sullivan are no stranger to these situations, but say it helps to see the humor in them. They have one move called the ‘sidewalk stutter step.’

“Sidewalk stutter step is the human deer in the headlights moment, where you don’t commit to a side to pass someone and you’re stuck in a stutter,” Chiavaroli said.

They’ve even gone so far as to make a couple videos in tribute to the street struggles.

“We’re not trying to be wise guys, we’re just trying to smile and have a little comedy,” Sullivan said.

“A lot of sidewalk ragers, if someone walks in their way, they think it was done on purpose,” Alpert explained.

Alpert, a psychotherapist, said you can avoid seeing red by leaving yourself more travel time, not taking things so personally, and accepting the crowded city for what it is.

“One of the things I tell my sidewalk rage patients is, before you push think, would you want your mom or sister or daughter pushed,” Alpert said.

Alpert also warned that in this day and age of cellphones and Youtube, you certainly want to think before you act in a fit of sidewalk rage.