Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Walking: The New Normal?

We’ve generally had a warm, dry, early spring up here in the EUP. You know, the kind of weather that’s called ‘nice.’ Maybe because of the 'nice' weather, I’ve seen a lot of people out walking. Not just in town, but also along rural roadways. And it’s not just people who’ve lost their driver’s licenses to DUIs!

It’s looked to me like over the past several years, more and more people are walking as a way to enjoy being outside, as a way to get some exercise, and as a good way to socialize with one’s walking partner(s). It’s great to see.

Not that many years ago, walking was not so normal. How many of you had this experience? You were out for a stroll and someone you knew came by in their car. They’d stop to offer a ride because obviously you’d run out of gas or for some other reason were forced to walk instead of drive. It happened to me several times. I could hardly dissuade those well-meaning acquaintances in their attempts to offer me a ride. They’d leave somewhat puzzled why I’d prefer to walk.

Again, it’s great to see the new interest in walking. Not to be pushy, but if we could see more people walking as a form of transportation, not just recreation, that’d be even better.

Pleasant surroundings, pleasant weather, a safe route, all encourage walking. Towns are looking into walkable communities projects, including walkability audits, designated coffee break walking routes around offices, maps and guides to choice walking routes, walk/ride to work/school days. It all helps promote walking. But what might really promote it is the relatively new, positive attitude about walking.

So wouldn’t part of a place’s sense-of-place revolve around what’s normal for that place? Changing attitudes can be a slow process and probably has to happen organically, but how can we encourage changes in attitude like that? How did walking get to be the new normal?

No comments:

Post a Comment