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I am a 6'2 male with fairly long legs. As a consequence, I find that I am a much faster walker than most people (even compared to other tall people...I just have a quicker pace).

I often find myself in a situation where I am slowly gaining on someone I am walking behind and it feels awkward.

  1. I don't want to startle or scare someone especially in situations where it is dark out or they are listening to music
  2. I don't want to dramatically slow my pace when I get close because then it seems like I am stalking them or something. I would also prefer to walk my natural pace.
  3. There is not always a chance or take a wide path around the person (eg. sidewalk next to a busy street).

The best I've come up with is to scuff my feet on the ground when I am approaching so hopefully they hear that I am there or look at my phone as I'm passing so they don't see me as threatening (I don't even know if this is a good rationale). The scuffing of the feet against the pavement does not work in the case that they are listening to music.

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I'm in a similar position to you (marginally taller in fact — we can look quite imposing), and don't have much of a solution to offer, but:

  1. I don't want to dramatically slow my pace when I get close because then it seems like I am stalking them or something.

I suggest slowing down sooner, while still a good distance away so that if they do look behind you're not scarily close. This doesn't help with your preference to walk at your natural pace of course.

One thing that might help: I often pick a route that allows easier overtaking apart from a few narrow points (where I hang back until I can overtake giving a decent bit of space). I'm quite likely to miss my train if I end up walking at a shopping pace, so take the less pleasant back street.

I am fairly willing to step into the road to pass people, being conscious of safety. Walking so that you're facing the nearest traffic can help you pick your moment. You may need to jog past, but that's no bad thing, just don't slow down immediately in front of them. I should note though that jaywalking doesn't exist as a concept here. You have the legal right to walk in almost all roads so you only have to consider the safety aspect.

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Another tactic I have used is to strike up a fake phone conversation when I'm a good 50 feet behind and then they can hear you approaching and make way, and as you walk by you can say hello or something and they won't feel like you're humiliating them by blowing past them or something. Make it dull like you're listening to someone and just keep saying like "uh-huh", "that's interesting" etc.

I also go walking on a trail where people walk but also jog, so when I want to pass someone I start jogging when I'm still 50 feet behind and jog ahead of them a respectable distance such that they think I'm just taking a break. This saves you from the awkward period of time where you're walking side by side them, where they might even accelerate because they're offended or something.

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