So why walk?

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
~Queen, “Bicycle Race”

So, Fox, if you don’t give a damn about global warming, why the hell do you walk everywhere?

Because I like to walk.

No, really, I do. It’s not unusual to have someone come up to me and say “I see you walking all the time!” Walking’s fun, easy, it’s good exercise, and it’s free.

Cars are expensive. I have a cheap little Nissan I bought when I was convinced that a bachelor’s degree would get you a decent job. My monthly payment is about $250. I usually budget $50 for gas. So, $300 a month, in payments and gas alone, for the convenience of a car. I make minimum wage ($7.25). That means I spend 41.3 hours a month working just so I can have a fucking car. That’s a work week, right there. I’ve taken on second jobs to afford the car. And in my area, I could do without, sure, but I’d have my hands tied. I’d either have to get rides to work, or find a job within walking or biking distance. The town I live in is NOT friendly to the carless. And as lazy as my family is, I’d never see them…but that’s irrelevant to the discussion at hand, and may actually be a benefit.

Cars are noisy and smelly. At least to me. Not having to wake up to some guy too damn lazy to get out of his car and walk the twenty feet to knock on his friend’s door would be a blessing.

They contribute to urban sprawl. Face it, suburbs are ugly. No matter how they try to dress it up, seeing row after row of identical houses just isn’t aesthetically pleasing.

Let’s not forget that driving/riding in a car is extremely dangerous for something you do on a near daily basis. I’ve been in a collision. I was DAMN lucky that we all walked out of it, especially since I was on the side that was struck. (EDIT: I stand corrected, see Dargon’s comment below.) How many people do you know that have been injured or killed in car wrecks? It doesn’t make the news anymore unless it’s especially horrible. How often do you see someone’s pet dead on the side of the road…not to mention all the wildlife. How much damage is caused by collisions? It’s ridiculous.

Also, traffic sucks. I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone who likes being stuck in traffic.

And it’s all for mere convenience. “It’s hot.” “It’s raining.” “I’m tired.” They’re just excuses. I’ll stop by the grocery store on the way home from work, but usually only if I have to pick up soda (my vice), or a bulk 26 lb box of cat litter. I’d love to claim I’m hardcore enough to tote 26 lbs of kitty toilet paper back to my apartment, but I’m lazy. Seriously, though. The heat isn’t bad if you acclimate, and the rain always looks worse when you’re driving. And there’s this wonderful invention called an “umbrella.” Crazy stuff. As for being tired…I actually find myself less tired after I walk.

Walking doesn’t take nearly as much time as you think.  I did seven miles in two and a half hours once.  That includes watching TV at the Bird’s place, waiting in line at the realtor’s office, the post office, and fooling around at the library.  Was it taxing?  Yes.  It had rained that morning, the humidity was as high as the temperature and I toted a bag of books around the entire time.  But it was so worth it when people asked about my day.  “I walked seven miles!”

I find moving about without a car to be a very freeing experience. I’m not constrained by roads, there’s no need to park, I don’t have to worry about traffic tickets (unless you really like jaywalking). I can be as slow or as fast as I like and no one tailgates. I can smell the roses, pet someone’s dog, hold a conversation. I discover parts of the town I didn’t know about before. I notice little details you’d miss in a car.

I’m looking forward to getting the bike fixed so I can start biking. I dislike cold weather, so I’ll probably be on the bike a lot this winter.  And that will bring a whole slew of new and different experiences.


One Response to “So why walk?”

  1. Dargon Says:

    I actually miss the walking I used to do in College Station. Dallas is even less bike and pedestrian friendly.

    Out of curiosity, I measured just used Google earth to measure the walk I used to take to get home from class twice a week, 2.7 miles, used to take me about an hour.

    As for the suburbs, having been raised in them until I left for college, I honestly don’t find them unattractive. My only beef with them is they tend to be a fair distance from anything other than more suburbs.

    I also have a beef with the car danger wording. The annual odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 6500, making a lifetime odds of 1 in 83 (using age 78 for lifetime). Odds of being in one in your lifetime, using the same math, is about 1 in 4. I am hesitant to agree that you were damned lucky, less than 1/140 of car crashes are fatal. I could find no stats on injury, but based on anecdotal evidence, I’d say even injury is relatively uncommon. I personally know countless people who have been in car accidents, no injuries, and one fatality.

    As things are at the moment, the car is not a convenience, but a necessity. School is over thirty miles away, and the closest I can get using public transportation is ten miles away. When I was employed, it was eight miles to work, so still a twoish hour walk.

    That being said, once i have moved, campus will be within walking distance, and I am looking forward to that. However, for most other trips, the vehicle will still be a necessity. As much as I enjoy walking, without vast improvements to the public transportation system, personal vehicle ownership will remain a necessity in the average person’s life.

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