Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Go Out Walking...

I complain a lot on this blog. I complain about politics, about my neighbors, Sam's bad phases, her moods. I think I have even complained about my neighborhood and how strange it is in many ways and how much we had to spend to live here. But there is a reason we bought a house for the same price as a McMansion in hometown: walkability.

For the first six months after Sam's birth, we had only one car. Sam and I walked everywhere. Seriously. Everywhere. Ask me if something is "walking distance" and I will tell you yes--up to four miles, sometimes more. I like to walk. I like to have restaurants, bars, boutiques, coffee shops, grocery stores, doctor's offices all within walking distance. We walk to Sam's pediatrician. We walk to pick up takeout. We walk to the gym, liquor store, dry cleaner, grocery store, drug store, bakery, restaurants, movie theater and just about everywhere.

R and I were once staying at a friend's house in Ohio and were shocked that when he needed to pick up milk he had to drive. To Wal-Mart, no less. "All at once I realized why we don't live in the burbs," he told me. We have become very spoiled by our proximity to everything. We even scored a 86 on this walkability index

Walking is better for the environment, yes. It helps reduce our carbon footprint, which whether you believe it or not is extremely important. Walking also helps to lower the obesity rate in this country. Look at the most walkable cities on this list. Many of them also show up on "fittest cities" lists year after year (with a few exceptions). But these are not the reasons why we like to walk everywhere. It is convenient. And really fantastic to not have a car. One of the main drawbacks to moving to LA would be having to drive everywhere. It is so nice to not have to worry about parking tickets, vandalism or finding a spot. Just grab the stroller and go.

Although I take some issue with how the CNN study was ranked--most cities have some walkable areas and I am not sure that makes them "walkable" overall--I am glad that some light is being shed on this important issue. I am for anything that will increase walkability. And with that, I am going to walk to the post office.


Amy said...

Thanks for the link to the walkability index - I typed in my address in Chicago and got a 91 (I also found some shops and restaurants listed I wasn't even aware of). I completely agree, being able to walk to everything you may need on a daily basis is very nice - I can't imagine life any other way.

Stephanie said...

Hmmm - My walkability index is 54. The sad thing is, I live in a neighborhood where walkability has drastically improved in the past 2 years! If you were to imagine life at a 54 index, picture yourself perpetually 5-7 pounds heavier than you'd like to be. ;)