From near misses on footpaths

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

If you have read this article, then you will know that I am a left-hander, or rather a left-turner. But you will also understand why we humans perceive some things completely differently and why simple math explains this.

This is the English version of an article from 2018. After all these years, the footpath is still dangerous and this text at least makes right-handers smile.

Collisions always occur on a footpath when people rushing in opposite directions swerve in different directions and therefore continue to head towards each other.

This happens from time to time or quite often. However, this is not due to our perception or bad karma, but to the distribution of left- and right-turners in the population.

Much of this article is still speculation and needs to be tested in field trials, but this much we already know. The distribution of left-handers to right-handers in Germany is somewhere between 10% and 20% and the avoidance preference seems to be directly linked to handedness.

If passers-by meet in a Pareto distribution (this is still a software development blog), the following picture emerges. 64% of encounters are uncritical because only right-handed people are involved, 4% because only left-handed people are involved, but 32% of encounters are critical because both groups are involved.

The fact that a left-hander is annoyed by people who constantly run in front of his feet, but a right-hander does not really consider the problem worthy of consideration, is due to the encounters in which they are involved.

A right-hander has 32 critical encounters for every 64 non-critical encounters, so only every third encounter is critical. The left-hander penalized by the distribution, however, only has 4 non-critical encounters out of a total of 36. For him, over 80% of encounters are critical and his whole life is one big gauntlet.

The next time a passer-by comes towards you, simply move over to the other side. The left-hander will thank you for it.

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