I live exactly one mile from a big box store. One mile isn’t really very much. I like to get out and go for walks and runs; one mile would be barely a start when I’m talking about getting movement in. But I never walk to the store, because there isn’t a single sidewalk between my house and the store. So, I get in the car and drive there, probably cursing under my breath the whole time, because ugh. Who drives one mile when they don’t need to?
I live in the heart of a smallish city and it makes me crazy that I can’t easily get anywhere on foot. Once I’m out of my (sidewalk-free) neighborhood, I have to walk on the shoulders of roads, which perch precariously on the edge of deep ditches. It makes walking anywhere feel like an act of desperation, a last resort, instead of a sensible, sustainable choice. Every time I pass a gym, I cringe a little – all those treadmills lined up inside, and all the pointless walking and running being done on them. What if we had sidewalks? And we could just walk to the store or the post office or a restaurant? Maybe we wouldn’t need to set aside specific “walking/running” time if we could just incorporate movement into our lives.
But how do you change a car culture? Especially here in a place like Oklahoma where things are pretty spread out and having a car is a necessity? Do we give up and accept that means we don’t get to walk anywhere?
I don’t plan to. It may not be easy or comfortable right now, but until I get out there and do it, I can’t discover what the real issues are and learn if there are any simple things that can be done to make things better and more walkable.
This morning, it was pleasant and I planned to take a walk before it got hot. And I also needed to go to the store for 3 things. So, I did it: I grabbed my shopping tote, my wallet, and my good attitude, and walked there. The whole round-trip only took 47 minutes. A goodly section of the walk was through parking lots and crossing the main street in town was Frogger-esque due to no crosswalk, but I made it. And it actually wasn’t as bad as I feared.
So, I’m going to keep doing it, and maybe try to discover other ways to get to nearby places without using a car. After all, if I want to have a walkable community, the first step is to get out there and walk it.
(photo source Pixabay)