I do an awful lot of writing about bikes here. Which makes sense, of course, since I love-love-love my bike and basically everything there is about biking: being outside and part of the world, interacting with people around me, getting a better sense of the space between things, intimately experiencing the change of seasons…
But! Walking is in some sense even more elegant, since it gives you all of those things but in a more pure way–it requires absolutely no equipment other than your body. Not even shoes, if you’ve got tough little toesies.
I was thinking about that today because I ended up at work without my bike. A friend of mine picked me up early this morning for an adventure, and since we didn’t have time to return home before work she just dropped me off at my office. No worries, public transit here is good and I figured when the time came I’d just hop on the train and then the bus to get home (which takes about 40-45 minutes, just slightly longer than it takes to bike).
But when it came time to leave, I felt grumpy and tired and headachy, and the idea of getting on the MAX and then bus and spending even more time indoors was not super appealing.
So I walked. I figured I’d start just by walking down through Washington Park until I got downtown, and then I could take the bus if I wanted. The network of trails through that park is amazing–I often run on them from work, but I’ve never actually used them as a commute. It’s not direct by any means, but it’s beautiful. And since I was walking right past it anyway, it lent itself to a little stop in at the Japanese Garden. And then the Rose Garden.
By the time I got downtown, I was feeling much better, so I figured I’d keep walking down to the river. And once you’re at the river you might as well walk over it, too. And once I was on the other side of the river, I was already halfway home, so I just kept walking.
All told, walking from the zoo to my house is not really a viable means of transportation, since it’s somewhere between 8 and 9 miles and took about two and a half hours (plus the extra half hour that I hung out in the Japanese Garden:). I’m not about to walk to work on a regular basis. But it was pretty darn cool to take a route that I always, always bike and do it, with modifications, on foot instead.
You know the way that you see way more when you’re biking than when you’re driving, just because you’re going that much more slowly? That increases in much the same way from biking to walking. I had time to appreciate the drum corps at Lincoln High School. I could, literally, stop and smell the roses. I walked down Division Street, which I never bike on, and marveled at all the crazy construction going on there. I got a way better sense of just how many people are biking during commute time, since this time they were all going past me instead of me being part of a group that moves together. And I had a lot of time to think. It was rad.
So, walking. It’s definitely not fast, but sometimes fastness isn’t the point.