Take a walk...

...its good for you and for the environment

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It seems like everyone is in a hurry these days. Look around while doing your daily errands. All of us have some place to be with not a minute to spare. Due to the pressure to keep a fast-paced lifestyle and the lack of reliable public transport, most Americans drive everywhere. Even if it is just to the store down the road, cars equal convenience.

family-walking-in-woods But, despite relatively reliable public transport, in Britain the same phenomenon is evident. People seem to be unable to use their legs, be it by way of walking or cycling, to even go the shortest distances.

It always used to be said that the Americans would, if they but could, use the car to go to the lavatory but that adage must also be applied to the British people of today and I am sure, if they but could, they would do it.

But many do take “walking holidays” or have gym membership to get fit. They could save themselves all that nice money if they would but walk or cycle to the shops, the school, and even to work.

The U.S. is home to the largest number of cars in the world, and the number of motor vehicles has been rising by an estimated 3.69 million each year since 1960. As we know, this increase in cars leads to an increase in carbon emissions and pollution. While driving efficiently, participating in a carshare, and investing in fuel-efficient vehicles are all important ways to help, much of the problem is how dependent we are on driving itself.

In the US the car became a necessity with everyone moving into the suburbs during the wars and after World War Two especially. Everything was built with car use in mind.

Britain copied this, to some extent, by encouraging people to move out of the cities into suburbia land with the city centers becoming only places where people work and shop.

Many parts of the U.S. are now designed specifically for cars, not pedestrians and the cyclists are not faring much better either in that equation. Nonprofit organization America Walks says that 41% of all trips made in the United States are one mile or less, fewer than 10% of all trips are made by walking and biking. But there is no walking and cycling infrastructure in existence making walking and biking unsafe, to some extent.

There are many benefits to incorporating walking into our lives. Take the example of walking kids to school. It is a great way to get kids moving, and makes kids and adults alike feel more connected to their surroundings. According to America Walks, parents driving children to school comprises 20-30 percent of morning traffic congestion in urban areas. So organizing a "walk your kids to school" program would improve morning traffic, ensure that kids get their exercise for the day, and help people get to know their neighborhoods better.

When we look at the traffic volume around our villages and towns in Britain we see exactly the selfsame picture. Road are gridlocked, especially around the areas of schools, simply because people cannot even be asked to walk their kids to the local school which, at times, is no more than half a mile or less away from their homes. The SUV has to be used and only to take them there and back in the afternoon. Often the parent taking the children will drive from the school back home and that's it. It is mad.

Walking is indisputably the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation. It does not produce any pollution, and it requires no supplies or maintenance, except for shoes. In fact, walking contributes to your maintenance of you. The next best thing after walking, and it gets you further and faster is cycling. Anything else is not very environmentally-friendly at all.

So, let's walk and cycle. Good for you and good for the Planet.

© 2012