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Summary:

As Charlie wrote about earlier today, transportation is a big source of greenhouse gas emissions. The fact that you and I don’t have to commute to work every day already helps in terms of limiting carbon emissions, and it’s something we can feel really good about! […]

walkscorelogo2As Charlie wrote about earlier today, transportation is a big source of greenhouse gas emissions. The fact that you and I don’t have to commute to work every day already helps in terms of limiting carbon emissions, and it’s something we can feel really good about!

But most of us probably still do more driving than we really have to. I’m from California, the U.S. state with the most cars per capita. Driving is what we Californians do (as you may remember from the movie L.A. Story). It often can’t be helped, given how spread out everything is there.

My simple suggestion, with this post, is that you should try to walk more. Take advantage of the fact that you’re not tied to a desk and a schedule, that nobody’s checking how long your lunch hours are. We can often take the time to actually walk to the grocery store when there’s no rush-hour mob scene, and smell the roses along the way. It’s good for body, soul and planet.

How walkable is your neighborhood? I recently stumbled on Walk Score, a cool site that ranks 2,508 neighborhoods in the 40 largest U.S. cities for walkability. I plugged in my old address to test it:

WalkScoreResults

I never realized there was a hardware store so close by! Or a yoga studio. You can click on the icons for more detail, and also expand the view. I was surprised to learn that 35 percent of San Diegans lived in more walkable neighborhoods than I did. There are other features and plenty of interesting info on the site too. (It’s worth noting that the app isn’t flawless; under “Movie Theaters” it lists an adult book store.)

Now I live in Paris and, like most Parisians, I don’t even own a car. A few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined such a thing. But the big difference is that Paris is the ultimate walkable city. After all, it was built when feet were pretty much the only transportation option available to most. I can’t wait till somebody does a site like this for Paris.

What else can you do? Everybody’s talking about different ways to reduce carbon emissions, but the idea of creating walkable cities is not getting the attention it deserves from the powers that be. Take a few moments to learn what a walkable city is and what walking can do for you and your world. Become an advocate of the movement. Do it for your own quality of life and that of coming generations.

How walkable is your neighborhood?

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  1. My neighborhood has a walk score of…wait for it….THREE. Bet you didn’t think one that low was possible, did you? LOL

    We don’t even have sidewalks on my street! And I don’t live in the middle of nowhere. I live in a residential neighborhood in a decent-sized city. My daughter’s school is less than 1.5 miles away and I don’t even feel safe walking her to school because of the lack of sidewalks on our narrow street where traffic frequently moves upwards of 30mph. So I drive her everyday.

    I visited an area near downtown Atlanta recently where there were lots of condo developments that had been planned to have shopping and public transport access within walking distance. I was so jealous! It looked so wonderful to not have to get into a car to go everywhere!

    1. I remember at the start of Bill Bryson’s “A Walk In the Woods” where he decides to walk to the grocery store, but finds it very hard — no sidewalks. I think he ends up having to walk through a storm drain at one point! Living in Europe, I find it hard to comprehend how you can have such pedestrian unfriendly places, but I guess your towns were developed around car usage.

  2. I’ve known about this site for a while and my address in Phoenix has a walk score of 86! Its a great part of town and I love being able to walk EVERYWHERE!

  3. My favorite U.S cities are New York, San Francisco and Boston — all very walkable.

  4. The walkability score from that site does not factor in lack of sidewalks, traffic etc. It ranks my neigborhood at 65% – and it’s a joke. The movie theater it wants me to walk to is 1.5 miles away, which is close enough. However, there are no sidewalks, no crosswalks, and the path there is along and across a divided highway with 3-4 lanes each way and a 45 mph speed limit. Trying to walk to the movies would be a good way to die!

  5. Charles McPhate Friday, October 16, 2009

    I’m lucky to live in downtown Chicago; my walk score is 100. I got rid of my car when I moved here seven years ago and haven’t regretted it. I moved here from Louisiana, where the streets were not made for walkin’.

    I spend almost all of my time within walking distance of home, which is anywhere within 2 miles or so. When I need to go farther, or I’m carrying something heavy, I just take a train or bus.

    Despite how walkable Chicago is, we still have the second worst traffic in the country. Way too many people still drive instead of walk. One of my neighbors actually drives to her office — a mere five blocks away. Shocking, I know. And disappointing.

    1. I’ll also add that I get really irritated when my friends want to take a cab to go somewhere that’s a mere 10-minute walk away. What’s with that nonsense? Might help explain why as a nation we’re getting so much fatter.

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