Years ago I worked with a woman that told me she loved her commute. She had a huge home in the suburbs and left very very early in the morning to come into work. To accommodate traffic she worked odd hours to most of her coworkers. She had a fairly serious chronic condition that demanded regular sleep, good nutrition and exercise to avoid flare ups. She was unable to give herself any of those things but she was able to sit in a car for up to three hours a day. Did she desperately need the money from work? Not really. She admitted as much to me.
Urban sprawl and the car commuting lifestyle add pounds. The average weight of a resident of a walkable neighborhood is seven pounds less than someone living in a sprawling neighborhood.
Car commuting takes away from community and activity. For every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute their community activities drop 10%.
What makes a neighborhood walkable? from WalkScore.com
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
- People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
- Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
- Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
- Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
Walking places is probably the biggest reason we like living downtown. We don’t go to a lot of live music events at the big arenas a few blocks away, we aren’t terribly into the restaurant scene and I haven’t been to a bar on Granville street in a long, long time. Obviously I don’t feel a big need to be close to the mall or the shops on Robson Street. So why live downtown with all the noise and small space.
We like walking to the bank.
We like walking to the park.
We like grocery shopping on foot, our easy access to the library for books and the childrens activities they put on and being a few short blocks away from the YMCA and their ozonated pool.
The root of this enjoyment? Laziness. Especially now that we have a child. Gotta buckle him in and then out and then back in and then out again. Yep, we’d rather walk because driving seems like a lot of work.
So what are we going to do about our driving laziness on the Isle of Man? We will be getting a car. I was sad about this but it’s actually part of Chris’s remuneration package. On the bright side: we’ll get some use out of it seeing the Isle and, hopefully, other parts of the UK.
While we’ll be rejoining the ranks of car ownership, we will still be able to walk most places. I was ecstatic to check our new home’s Walk Score on WalkScore.com:
- Walk Score for our Vancouver neighborhood: 97 (out of 100)
- Walk Score for Douglas, Isle of Man: 93 (out of 100) *I used Douglas Promenade – the main drag for Douglas and where I am told we will look for a flat- to get a walk score.
The Isle of Man also has excellent bus service and train service which I am excited about. I’ll need to ease into right side driving.
Do you know your neighborhood’s Walk Score? Do you think it affects your health and activities? If you car commute how do you make time for activity in your day?
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