If you live in a city, NYC or otherwise, you really must know some basic rules of being a pedestrian. On a daily basis it amazes me how many oblivious people are wandering around, getting in the way.
Stay To The Right
This is the most basic of all street manners: Stay to the right side of the sidewalk. When we drive, we don't zig-zag all over the place into both lanes do we? Well, it's the same when walking in the city.
Learn To Say "Excuse Me"
Two simple words, so easy to say, yet so few people do. If you are in a rush and need to get by... say "excuse me," don't just rudely push through. Maybe even follow it up with a "Thank you." Perish the thought...
Mind Your Blackberry or iPhone
I'd be lying if I claim to not use my phone while walking on the street. However, there is a big difference between using it responsibly and being so distracted you'll walk into traffic or face-first into another person. So, as a start, if you're walking on a very busy street, put the Blackberry away or step off to the side and do what you need to do. This is one of the main reasons I have stuck with my Blackberry with a physical keyboard... with practice you can practically touch-type on it while looking straight ahead.
Walking In Pairs or Groups
Anyone in a couple often walks down the street side-by-side, possibly holding hands. This is all good, but you need to get out of the way when it's necessary. Walking down a narrow sidewalk or near a pile of recycling bags? Walk single-file so people can get by in the other direction. This applies even more so when walking in groups of more than two. In NYC you will literally see small groups of tourists dominating 20 feet of sidewalk with no regard for anyone, making it nearly impossible for anyone to get by.
Keep Your Kids And Strollers Under Control
First off, I always open doors for people with strollers, or help a mother carry the stroller up or down stairs, so I am not hating on having kids. However, just because you have a stroller, doesn't give you a license to dominate the entire street. If you're going to stop and talk to your friend who also has a kid, maybe don't perfectly align the strollers so they block the entire sidewalk?
My parents used to each hold one of my hands, and play the "1-2-3 weeeee" game, swinging me down the sidewalk. I can guarantee you, this wasn't done on a busy street during rush hour. If you have kids who are old enough to be walking down the street on their own two feet, it's time to teach them the associated manners. Believe me, it works... my father did it, and I'm here writing articles about it!
Keep Your Dog Close
Yeah, your dog is cute, and he or she is the best little boy or girl in the whole world, we all know... but I still don't want to step in dog sh*t, or pee for that matter. Nor do I want to trip on the dog leash that spans the width of the sidewalk. So, please, when walking your dog in the city, keep he or she under control and let them do their business on the street, where it belongs. NYC, like many other cities, has street cleaner machines that come long and clean up to the curb, so that's a perfect place for your pet to do its thing... rather than leaving a rivers of pee running across the street.
Don't Spit Or Litter
I am not sure at what point in time it became acceptable to spit anywhere you please. It is absolutely disgusting. Someone almost
spit on me once because they were not paying attention at all. I responded with a nice "What the f*ck are you doing?". If you feel that compelled to spit, find a trash can or a bathroom. Same goes for tossing gum, straw wrappers, and whatever other little bits of crap you might be inclined to drop on the street.
In some countries you could be put in jail or have your hand cut off for behavior like this... so just be glad you live in a place where you are free to be as much of a dick as you want.