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August 12, 2007

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Every transport trip is, to some extent, an interrupted walk. The problem is that we have come to regard the walk as a problem rather than an opportunity. Look at how people drive around the parking lot at the mall to try a snag a spot close to the entrance. So they can walk inside the mall. Or so they can use a tread mill! (Those things used to be used for punishment, not so long ago.)

Transit trips always have a significant walk component, especially in suburbs, where the bus cannot penetrate the dendritic street (distributor) system, and has to stay on the arterials.

For most people need more exercise. And an easy, free way to start is to just walk a little further. Get off the bus a stop earlier, or walk a bit to the next stop while you are waiting for the bus. Park at the edge of the lot and then walk that much further. Take the stairs sometimes - not all 15 floors the first day of course, but build up to it.

And while you are walking take the time to appreciate your surroundings. Carry a camera. Keep an eye out for picture taking opportunities. Or a recording device.

Don't rush. It's not a race. It's a chance to breathe. To experience where you are for real - not through a window. We spend so much time looking at the world through a screen. We have reduced the world to two dimensions. The real measure of distance is how long it takes you to walk there.

Thanks for the links, Jen. Sounds like a near-perfect fit.

I've also recently discovered Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit, whose work I've read in Orion, an environmental periodical available in print and online.

Here's a group of people who walk as a sort of aesthetic practice: Psychogeography. It's not quite aimless wandering, not quite a guided walking tour! I found this article in a 2005 Utne Reader.

http://www.utne.com/issues/2004_124/promo/11262-1.html

And here's the Wikipedia entry for this decidely odd approach to urban exploration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychogeography

As an aesthete and walker I thought you'd appreciate it.

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