Walking As An Indicator Species For Freedom
Walking is an indicator species for various kinds of freedom and pleasures: free time, free and alluring space, and unhindered bodies.”
~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
In that vein, a walkable community is an indicator of a healthy, resilient, and balanced community. If it, the community, is indeed walked. Traverse City, by most American standards, is a very walkable city. A walker’s paradise if the raw, central score at Walkscore is a good measure. We have some areas to connect, some access issues and we have some undeserved neighborhoods, but for the most part, it is a walker’s paradise.
And yet, we are still dominated by our cars; We are culturally wired for the automobile and to assume the automobile has more right to public space than people. People walking still run across the road when they have the right of way. This is cultural and will only change once we: 1) recognize that we all walk (even die-hard motorists must walk); 2) walk more (expand the idea that Americans will only walk 1/4 mile or less).
The level that people in a community feel encouraged, enjoy, have the space (time and physical) to walk are some ways that walking is an indicator species for a community. In this regard, our cultural walkscore isn’t so high. The good news? It doesn’t take much to shake it. Walking more is the first key. A pair of comfortable shoes and a destination is the only things required, and neither of them are really necessary. We can set off shoeless and directionless and still reach where we need to be.
Inspired by Solnit’s Wanderlust, which I’m only 2 chapters into, this week I’m committing to walking ALL of my in-town trips. For the most part, I operate in a 2-mile radius that is completely agreeable to this challenge, so I don’t expect any difficulties. In fact, I’m looking forward to the freedoms and pleasures Solnit’s writing clarifies so well.
I’ll keep you posted of the walking and you can expect other gems from Wanderlust in the coming weeks.
Where can you walk this week?
(Ding! Ding! to Sharon for lending the book.)