Sunday, February 13, 2011

Destination Walking

Today as I was trying to figure out what to prepare for dinner I came to the realization that no matter what I decided on, a trip to the store would have to be made. But we're a one car household here (and have been for almost 15 years!) and Jay was at work and wouldn't be back until close to nightfall. Usually when this happens, I text him a message asking that he stop at the store on the way home. As I was typing out the text it occurred to me that there really was no reason I couldn't go to the grocery store myself, you know, by way of my feet.

Even though I knew it takes less than 5 minutes to get to the grocery store in the car, I Google mapped it anyway just to find out the exact distance. Right about one mile. Once I saw that it was only one mile, I almost felt guilty debating whether or not to walk it. Seriously, when did one mile become such a big deal? Plus, it wasn't as if I would be buying something heavy like a gallon of milk or a 25 pound bag of dog food, I needed taco fixings. Carrying home taco fixings wouldn't even give me an upper body workout. So I grabbed my shopping bag and the girl and headed out the door.

A mere twenty minutes later, we were at the store. Only twenty minutes. Again, why was I ever even debating whether or not to do this? And that's walking at the pace of a six year old. I'm a pretty fast walker and had I been by myself I probably could have done it much quicker. We wandered around the store a while, got the things we needed, and left. The entire trip took about an hour and a half.

Now granted, I couldn't do this all the time. Some days I just don't have the time to devote to a shopping trip that would take only 10-15 minutes in the car. But I could do it some days. And I was thinking about it, and there are a few other places I frequent that I could walk to. The library: 1.2 miles. Starbucks: 1 mile. The farmers market (come late spring): 1.2 miles. The post office: 0.9 miles. There really is no reason I couldn't work at least one walking trip a week into my schedule.

Back in Florida, everything was spread out in such a way that I really couldn't walk anywhere other than my neighborhood or the elementary school. Even if I had hours to devote to a walk to the store, I would have to cross busy roads filled with lanes and lanes of drivers that just weren't used to seeing people walking. Here, walking is a bit more common and drivers are courteous and aware of walkers and bikers.

I'll admit that at first walking made me feel vulnerable and exposed. But that's silly really. My car never really made me safer. Although I have no facts to support it, I imagine I'd be more likely to die in a car accident than I would be to die on the well maintained sidewalks of a virtually crime free suburb. And as for that exposed feeling, well, my car has never made me invisible either. It's just easy to fool myself into thinking it does so that I don't feel like a dork when I drive through town scratching my boobs and singing Rocket Man at the top of my lungs.

So now I'm curious, do any of you ever walk with a fixed destination in mind? If so, where do you walk to and what do you consider a reasonable walking distance? If you don't walk, why? And do you wish you could?


Maria Rose said...

We too are a 1 car family by choice. I do walk. I go to the library or downtown. Always a bit more challenging with a little one, particularly in the winter. I also take my dog on a walk every single day. Unfortunately my town is really spread out so there are a lot of limitations (unless I want to walk 8 miles with a baby)...I really want to live in a town that is walkable/has decent public transit.

beck said...

We live right in the heart of a small town so I have NO excuse not to walk to the supermarket, Post Office etc. Some days I do, some days I don't. School is 1.5 kilometres away and as I discovered the other day, just a tiny bit too far for my 5 year old, who has just started school. I do try to walk as much as possible, I like the idea of destination walking, it sounds so purposeful!! x

Dysfunctional Mom said...

I don't know if you've ever been to downtown Alachua, but we used to live in the downtown neighborhood. We could walk to the grocery store, post office, library, city hall, the recreation center and tons of shops & restaurants. And we did walk it very often instead of driving, by choice. I loved it, and that's the only thing I miss about living there. The neighborhood was wonderful.

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

You make some really good points here. I wish we could do without our vehicles, but I work about 30 minutes away from home and my husband's commute is one hour and 15 minutes. Between work and driving our kids everywhere, we just can't do it. I would love to walk more -- but the nearest grocery store is in the next village over. I do try to take my fat dog for walks when the weather is nice, but we're fair-weather-walkers around here.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Go Tammie!

The closest thing I can walk to is a park full of swings, slids and monkey bars with kids and mommies. Not a destination for me without kids because I look like I am lurking around....not good. Starbucks and stores are 4 miles one way. I am officially too lazy to walk there. I hate suburbia.

Terri Morin said...

I'm TRYING to walk every day, when the weather allows, for about an hour. My route is about 4 miles round trip. My bank is at the end of my destination, so when I have a deposit, I make every effort to "walk" it to the bank.

Tammie said...

maria rose: yep, we go on dog walks everyday too which i think has probably prepared me physically for destination walking. the walk to the store was barely tiring.

we have really good public transportation here-that's the next challenge on my list. the public transportation in florida was lacking in many ways so its just not something im really comfortable with yet.

beck: walking with a 5-6 year old has challenges all its own. they're a bit too big for a stroller, but yet they can only walk so far on their short legs. the girl did great yesterday but i think that was partly because the whole idea was novel to her. im hoping as we do it more often, she becomes used to it.

cyndy: i have been to downtown alachua and it was perfect for this sort of walking. everything was so close it almost made more sense to walk it than to drive.

jodi: i completely understand. jay has a 20 minute drive to work and without the car he couldnt get there, public transit doesnt extend that far out. i plan on going back to work in the near future and at that point we'll probably have to get another car. not only for me, but because the boy is getting to be at the age where he usually has his own places to go.

peggy: i dont blame you-four miles one way is a long way. by the time you got back home youd be beat! thats how it was in florida too, everything was just too far.

terri: such a good idea. my bank is another place i could walk to. its right across the street from the store.

Daphne said...

Hey, that's my mom who just posted! Hi, Mom! :)

I haven't started walking here yet BUT the downtown is only a mile away so I don't have any excuse not to -- I think I will most likely be biking a LOT as soon as I get my bike tires pumped up. Then, it's bike to the library, farmer's market, TJs... I think that is totally do-able on the weekends. Thanks for the reminder.

Tammie said...

HA! i was 99.9% sure it was your mom. :)

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

tammie - unable to send you an email that I had in draft for a few days. says you will not accept spam. so if you are blocking me - just tell me and I won't retry.

Nowheymama said...

We walk a lot when the weather is nice. To the library, the park, downtown, friends' houses. We used to be able to walk to the store, but the only one downtown just closed. The others don't have sidewalks on the roads to them, so I don't feel safe walking there with the kids.

alisha said...

Yay! That's awesome!! I miss being able to walk and actually reach a destination. Where we used to live I would strap my son on my back or pop him in the stroller and I could walk to restaurants, a post office, 7-11, coffee shop, ice cream shop, 2 grocery stores....basically anything I needed. Here I HAVE to get in the car and I hate it. I'm crossing my fingers that we are able to move closer to the city soon...or at lease to an area of a suburb that allows me more freedom.

mandy said...

Our Midwestern town is so spread out it makes me pine for the way our old neighborhood in Philly was set up when I literally walked everywhere because we didn't have a car.

Now there are few places we can walk to but there are a few places I take the littles to on the bike trailer; I don't like it as much as walking...argh I dislike the car.

Dani said...

I would love to walk more, but work 45 minutes away (that's a bumper-to-bumper 45 minutes) and the nearest grocery store is still a couple miles away. Plus it's lame and over-priced.

So we are a car driving family. But we have a car that gets really good mileage and aren't ones to just drive around. Believe me...I'd walk more places if it was doable. Houston drivers can be nuts.