Walk to Work Day: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Walk to Work Day: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
The GOOD Life

Walk to Work Day: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

by Jim Stone

May 27, 2013


And a word about motorists along the way. Actually, two words: courteous and well-behaved. Nobody tried to bully me out of a crosswalk and I sensed a general awareness of pedestrians by drivers turning into intersections and driveways. I was pleased to see this, especially in the City Heights neighborhood where there have historically been a disproportionate number of pedestrians hit by cars.

The Bad

There are some places that just make you shake your head and wonder, “What were they thinking?” An example was a retail strip along University Avenue in the Rolando neighborhood, where there was parallel parking close to the storefront that is only accessible by driving over the sidewalk. Yes folks, it is actually designed so that cars must drive on the sidewalk to get to a parking spot!

As is typical for anyone who walks, there were some annoying obstructions along the way. Sometimes it was a utility box, a light pole or a sign smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk. Why do they think that’s okay? They would never put a stop sign or a utility pole in the middle of a driving lane, yet it is not uncommon to obstruct the pedestrian path. We shouldn’t stand for it!

The Ugly

What does a Dalmatian and a typical sidewalk in City Heights have in common? Black spots. But the spots on the sidewalk are from chewing gum. Yuck! Come on, kids—put that used gum in a trash can! What does it have to do with walkability? Walkable places are pleasant places. A bunch of gum stuck on the sidewalk makes a place less pleasant. The same goes for cigarette butts.

Infrastructure barriers to walkability must be addressed by government, but aesthetic issues like litter and cleanliness are within the power of the people to solve. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is one way people can have a direct hand in making things better.

So now what?

A few parting thoughts about my 11-mile walk. When you walk, you see things you don’t normally see—a bit of wonderful landscape that remains unobserved at 30 mph, for example. You can enjoy the aroma of countless restaurants cooking up breakfast for waiting customers. And you have an opportunity to say hello to other walkers passing by; something you just can’t do while driving.

These are the things that build community. So it may not be practical to walk to work, but I encourage you to take a foot-powered journey somewhere this weekend. You might be surprised at what you find. 

Original photo via (cc) Flickr user badjonni

Additional photo(s) courtesy of walksandiego.org

This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. This week: Walk 30 Minutes a Day. Follow along and join the conversation at good.is/citizenship and on Twitter at #goodcitizen.

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Walk to Work Day: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly