One who walks in another’s tracks leaves no footprints. -Proverb
When gas prices were hovering around $5 a gallon, many of my friends and neighbors decided to leave their car tucked away quietly in the garage, and instead slip into their sneakers to discover just how close our urban amenities truly are.
With most of our housing comfortably within a quarter-of-a mile from stores, restaurants, parks, and other urban amenities, not to mention our fantastic weather, greenery, and interesting architecture, most reaffirm we live in a walkable urban paradise.
In a recent survey of walkable cities, San Diego ranked #16 with an overall score of 56 out of 100. Our Downtown neighborhoods fared much higher; many reached the prestigious class of a “Walker’s Paradise,” scoring 90 points or better.
As baby boomers reach retirement age, more and more are seeking communities not only where amenities and friends lie within comfortable walking distance, but also where public transportation options intertwine with walkability. Yet it’s not just boomers who have a pent-up desire for what is known as “walkable urbanism”; it’s people of all ages.
It just makes sense! Walking promotes well-being by burning off excess calories and increases the circulation of all your inner systems. It truly is the supreme “green” option of transportation. For the cost of filling up your tank with gas just once, you could buy a very nice pair of walking shoes that will provide you with many months of carefree walking experiences.
More importantly, it’s enjoyable. Walking gives you the opportunity to connect with your neighbors and meet new ones, and to really experience the place you’ve chosen to live.
Now, as gas prices slowly begin to inch downward, I can’t help but wonder what we’ve learned. Will the cars stay parked? Do people long to be more environmentally, financially, and socially sustainable?
I wonder…What footprint will we leave?
Even though his company office is in North County, Brian Kiczula (Metrome) has the option of working from home. This affords him the time, which he’d normally spend commuting, to take a jog around the neighborhood.
Having lived in many cities and countries around the world, Lew and Hua Baurer recently chose to settle in Downtown. When asked why, at first Lew stated the obvious: the weather. But more careful discussion drew out another, deeper reason: the walkability of our community. Lew doesn’t own a car, and Hua doesn’t drive.
Why junk up the city with fumes? says Dee Badami (Parkloft). She further enunciates that she doesn’t see the point of taking a car anywhere Downtown. It’s a pleasant walk and who wants to deal with parking.
Instead of thinking about distance measured in MPG, think about how many blocks and minutes. A quarter-of-a mile is 1,320 feet, 6.6 blocks walking east-west, 4.4 blocks traveling north-south. I base my time on minutes. It takes me 8 minutes to walk to City Hall. Then again, not everyone strives to walk a 20-minute mile in high heels! -September 2008