I think that walking is the most under appreciated form of transportation. You don't have to worry about parking. You usually have plenty of personal space. And you don't have to worry about anything other than putting one foot in front of the other. You can get a lot of thinking done without a metal cage on wheels surrounding you.My mind drifts a lot, and that's not usually a good thing when your driving.
In college we had a discussion group about the book Planetwalker. It was about an environmental activist who spent 22 years walking in silence, John Francis. He walked from his home in the Bay Area to I believe Washington D.C. He came and visited. One of the first things our group did was take a walk with him in silence to the Stella Maris chapel on the other side of Lake Sagatagan, in silence. The experience was unlike anything else I did in college. We just moved our feet and kept walking. We went to a friend's apartment for a nice potluck meal afterwards. The whole experience was one of the most fulfilling things I've done.
During our discussion I said that, "Five thousand cars is a traffic jam, while five thousand people walking is a movement." I believe I made that up, but I may have read the quote somewhere else. Regardless, I like that image. I think of the Civil Rights marches in sixties. I think of pilgrims on the Camino Del Santiago in Spain. Or slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. I like the idea of controlling your movement to somewhere else.
The negative gut reaction some people to walking amazes me. A few days ago, I was heading out to the T station, which was a 15-20 minute walk. My roommate said, “Oh are you heading out? I’ll give you a ride.” I thought she meant a ride downtown, which was fine with me, but it turns out she was just offering me a ride to the T station. I politely accepted the offer. She needed five more minutes to get ready. The car ride was maybe four minutes, and we must have spent five minutes looking for a parking spot and then a couple more minutes to get to the T from where we parked. She even said, “Oh I don’t walk to the T, ever.” I just thought, really? You’re using gas and getting stressed finding a parking spot, when you walk, you just get there.
I do walk sometimes out of impatience. I don’t like waiting more than five minutes for a bus or the T. And of course it’s much harder to walk when you are out of the city. That’s one reason I really like Boston. I could walk just about everywhere.
I think I first started to like walking when I worked at a summer camp. I was a commissioner, so my job was to go visit leaders and take care of camp sites. So, I had to walk to all of them. I loved that. It took me all morning to make my way down the road to the final campsite a half mile away. I got to stop and talk to scouts or fellow counselors along the way. And I got a chance to see wildlife whenever it poked around. All because I used my own two feet.