How to Walk Through a Crowd

A Modern Survival Guide Interlude

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  • Move deliberately
  • Adjust your expectations
  • Avoid bottlenecks
  • Keep Moving

Find the Gaps

Let’s start with an obvious point: you’re not going to be able to shove your way through a crowd by running in a straight line at any kind of good speed. At some point you’re going to run up against someone who is bigger or more belligerent than you are, and then you’re going to stop (and probably get in an altercation). So don’t do that.

Move Deliberately

A component of flock behavior is that people will unconsciously create room for objects that are moving at a deliberate pace and predictable direction. Note that this only works if people can see you — if you’re coming from behind, find the gaps. But if you’re moving into an oncoming crowd, as long as you are moving with a confident posture and deliberate pacing, most people will get out of your way.

Adjust Your Expectations

You aren’t going to be able to sprint through a crowd to get to your destination. So stop thinking that’s an option. Treat crowds like traffic jams and add fifteen minutes to your time to destination. Patience is a virtue; there’s no need to stress out because you’re trying to do something that can’t be done.

Avoid Bottlenecks

Specifically, avoid creating bottlenecks in crowds, which slow everyone down, raise stress levels, and have the potential for creating dangerous situations. Under no circumstances should you do any of the following things:

  • Stopping at the top or bottom of escalators
  • Stopping suddenly in the middle of a walkway
  • Turning suddenly against the flow of the crowd

Ultimately — Keep Moving!

In most crowds, unless you’re stopping specifically with the crowd to look at something, it’s better to keep moving. If you need a break, working your way to an edge can give breathing space. If you can’t see, simply getting around taller people or finding open spaces can give you better visibility to see where you’re going. And if you want out, it’s best to move at sideways at an angle to the crowd’s direction, rather than trying to go against the flow.

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