Growing up in a Michigan suburb, it wasn’t a crazy idea to get a ride to my friend’s house even though she lived less than a mile away. Frequently I would drive up to the corner store, even though on my bike it would take me only 5 minutes. I even remember getting a ride to the bus stop every morning my junior year of high school, although I did walk home in the afternoon.
Why didn’t I walk??
I walked a lot more during my time at Eastern Michigan University(EMU). The campus there is made for walking and it was just a lot easier to park your car and walk the rest of the day then move your car to each building. When I lived near campus, I walked the 15 minutes to class rather than drive because I would only save 5 minutes of walking time otherwise.
The same is true of Ann Arbor, MI, where I frequently spent my free time. The downtown of the city is made for walking. You park in one area, and you spend the day walking to where you need to go.
Parking availability in both EMU and Ann Arbor is so bad, having to only walk 2 blocks to get where you need to go is considered very close parking. In order to avoid paying for parking, I would walk an extra 2-3 blocks and park at a friend’s house.
During this time, I was fine with walking, but why?
Now, here I am, in Salt Lake City. Do I walk? Not really.
Smith’s is only 2 blocks away. If I were to really time it, I bet it takes less time walking there then taking the car. I also live pretty close to the Jordan River parkway, a beautiful path. I have driven a couple times to one of its parks, to walk the dog.
Mostly my excuses are about time. I don’t have the time to walk, I’m always in a hurry and any way that I can shave off a couple of minutes off my trip by driving is worth it.
I’m also lazy, I admit it! I don’t want to carry bags of groceries for 2 blocks!
According to the NPR’s article "Americans Do Not Walk The Walk, And That's A Growing Problem” I’m not alone on the no walking attitude: “Americans now walk the least of any industrialized nation in the world.”
Is it that we are lazy? Too much in a hurry? Don’t have access to safe walkways?
In Tom Vanderbilt’s article, he explores these ideas, and the idea that we may have just forgotten that it is an option.
A student in Raleigh, N.C seems to think that we have forgotten that walking is an option and started a campaign in his city to try and remind folks that things are closer then they think.
Matt Tomasulo decided to post signs around his city advertising how far it is to walk to popular locations. “The signs were so well-made that city officials assumed someone had authorized them”, according to the article in the Huffington Post.
"It's an 18 minute walk to Glenwood South," read one sign in purple, the color Tomasulo chose for commercial interests. "It's a 7 minute walk to Raleigh City Cemetery," read another in green, designated for public spaces.
If I were to see these signs around the Salt Lake Area, I’m sure I would rethink my choice of driving instead of walking.
Being inspired by these articles, I decided to use Google maps to track about how far a walk places are from each other. I even mapped for public transportation, since using that instead of driving is still better for the environment.
My findings are:
If you start at Temple Square it is:
- 17 min walk and 11 min by bus to Gateway Mall
- 16 min walk and 10 min by bus to the Salt Lake City Library
- 9 min walk or bus ride to the Capitol Theater
- 9 min walk or 6 min bus ride to the Off Broadway Theater in downtown
- 11 min walk or 7 min bus ride to Energy Solutions Stadium
If you start at the Gateway Mall it is:
- 21 min walk or 14 min by bus to Red Iguana (my favorite Mexican restaurant)
- 17 min walk or 8 min by us to Main Street/Downtown area
- 14 min walk or 9 min by bus to Capitol Theater
- 5 min walk or bus ride to Energy Solutions Stadium
- 2 min walk to the Clark Planetarium and IMAX Theater
And if you start at the Salt Lake City Library it is:
- 10 min walk or bus ride to downtown Salt Lake
- 20 min walk or 12 min bus ride to Sunflower Farmer's Market
I know that if I had mapped driving routes, places would only take about 2-10 minutes to drive, however factoring in traffic, finding a parking space, and walking from that parking space to the venue, I would say time wise is about the same as walking or the bus.
I encourage everyone to get out their GPS or Google Maps and really look at where things are located.
Can you walk, bike or take a bus?
If it only takes you 20 minutes or less to use those options, I would do it. It’s a much healthier and relaxing trade to walk where I need to go.