Walking for Dummies: Why My Car is Slowly Killing Me

Here’s the deal: humans are supposed to walk. Not to be both vague and obvious, but that’s a huge part of why we have legs. However, thanks to metal boxes with giant belts attached, walking is becoming more and more uncommon and ‘inefficient’. Now, for those of you who live in big cities where you absolutely must walk everywhere- keep your pants on. I’m not talking about you. I am, however, talking about people who live in cities or towns (HELLO, Winston-Salem!) which are urban planning nightmares.

What’s an urban planning nightmare, you ask? It’s a city where key locations are placed so far away from one another that walking actually is becoming inefficient. For example, how the hell can I walk to the grocery store if the grocery store is 4-5 miles away? I’m not going to go off on a rant about the many ways public transportation needs to be improved in Cancer City (though trust me, I have very defined feelings about that subject), but I will say that walking certainly does not appear to be encouraged throughout our fair city.* I mean, there are entire neighborhoods without easily accessible sidewalks. Some areas have sidewalks, but the sidewalks are so badly damaged that it becomes an actual health risk to traverse the terrain.

But let’s say that you live in a neighborhood with easily accessible sidewalks (like, um, ME). Let’s say you live less than one mile from your graduate school campus. Why in the hell would you ever DRIVE to school? Doesn’t that seem like some sort of moral boundary? Apparently I thought walking to campus was a moral boundary at the beginning of this year. In fact, I refused to purchase a parking decal because I thought driving to campus would be the utmost example of physical laziness. I rode my bike most days, and when the wind chill became a bit too perilous for my  biking patterns, I hustled my ass to campus on foot.

But…up until two days ago, I hadn’t walked to campus in about one month.

(Ok, I’m exaggerating a little. I mean, there was a holiday break- you can chop out about three of those weeks.)

BUT STILL. For some reason, I’ve made driving 1/2 mile an everyday occurrence. Um, what? Here are the reasons I gave myself for not walking to campus:

1. It’s too damn cold.

Ok, this is/was probably true.

2. I have to walk at night and this neighborhood is not safe enough for a woman to walk alone at night.

Ok, again- probably true. But on a scale of 1(Pleasantville) to 10(Compton), the South Side of Winston-Salem barely even ranks on the scale. Plus, I’ve never been scared to walk alone at night, so why am I making up excuses now? I used to do a radio show which required me to walk home after 1am, and I wasn’t afraid to do THAT.

3. “I’m SO late, I don’t have time to walk.”

Those who know me are well aware of my legendary tardiness- I usually aim to be early, because my lateness is something with which I am constantly struggling. However, I really am early most of the time- but lately, driving to school has it made it ok for me to be ‘running late’. Solution? DON’T BE LATE.

Of course, yesterday I did have to drive to campus because I was in a state which can only be described as complete mortal peril. However, the day before that I walked. And, as long as my legs will carry me, I will walk every day from here on out. If undergraduate Jessamyn could see me now, she would be horrified/embarrassed/beyond confused. I will not allow my car to continue being my crutch.

Where’s one place to which you could walk, but don’t? The Gym? School? Work?

*Speaking of alternative methods of transportations, the lack of bike lanes in the streets immediately surrounding UNCSA is a major issue. However, the Winston-Salem Department of Transportation is FINALLY proposing to add bike lanes in several key areas which will have a positive effect on alternative transportation in and around UNCSA, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. At this point, it is extremely dangerous for cyclists to travel in the city of W-S, and this is a great step in the direction of giving cyclists full vehicular rights. ANYWAY, there will be a couple of different public meetings to see the proposed plans-

Tuesday, January 25th 5pm-8pm at the Gateway YWCA

Thursday, January 27th 5pm-8pm at the Konnoak Hills Moravian Church

You can also see the proposed bike lane plans online at the City of W-S Department of Transportation Website. If you have time and live in the area, your attendance at one or both of the meetings would be appreciated.

Even if you’re not from Cancer City, please take the time to evaluate the status of alternative transportation options in your area.

Public forums are an excellent example of the tremendous influence community members have on local policy-  remember that the silence of many is always louder than the words of a few.


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Filed under cycling, walking

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