Walking is powerful, but what if your town isn’t walkable?

My chosen way to get more activity in my life is to walk. Yes, I crosstrain: strength training is part of my routine, maybe not enough of my routine. I’m hoping to fix that. But the mainstay of my fitness life is walking.

I am quite lucky in that I live in a community where walking is quite feasible. California gives the right-of-way to pedestrians in its vehicle code, which doesn’t sound like much but for example Virginia gives drivers the right-of-way and pedestrians can be cited for “interfering with motor vehicles.” The vast majority of streets in my neighborhood have sidewalks, although bicyclists tend to use sidewalks rather than the street where they’re supposed to be, and those can be a mild hazard if you do not keep alert for them. I believe that in Mexico bicycle traffic tends to be routed to sidewalks and this is why bicyclists become a hazard for pedestrians here. Most of the time crossing signals have working signalling buttons, and new systems are being rolled out which are pretty reliable. Many of the stores and amenities in my neighborhood are within walking distance, so I can do errands on foot here.

However, this is not the case everywhere. Much of the country is pedestrian hostile. This article is pretty eloquent about the hazards of being a pedestrian in some of these places. If you live in a pedestrian hostile neighborhood, it is time to become an activist about making your area more walkable. It’s a public health issue, and it’s also a quality of life issue.

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