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To Walk or Ride – That is the Question

I have to admit, I haven’t been walking as much lately, and at least part of it is that it’s often easier and faster to drive somewhere.

For example, back when I took the bus to work, I had to walk to and from the bus stop, and if I wanted to go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, I’d often walk down on a break during work.

Since I started driving, though, I can easily swing by either store in my car on the way home, and of course I’m only walking to and from my car, not a bus stop.

So last week when I went to a conference in Boston, I debated about how to get around.

Inner Debate

This is roughly what my internal conversation went like when I arrived at South Station and had to get to my Airbnb.

Question – how long does Google think it will take for me to walk from South Station to the Airbnb?

Answer – about 35 minutes.

Question – what’s the temperature like?

Answer – high 60’s, which is good walking weather.

Question – am I capable of walking to my Airbnb with my luggage?

Answer – yes.

Question – how much would it cost to get a Lyft?

Answer – about $10, which is pretty cheap.

Question – how long would it take to get to my Airbnb with the Lyft?

Answer – with wait time, about 20 minutes.

Question – do I really want to ride in something else after sitting on the bus for two hours?

Answer – not particularly, and it would feel better to stretch my legs.

Question – should I walk or ride?

Answer – let’s walk!

Benefits of Walking

“You get to know things better when they go by slow.”

– from the song “The Ancient Egyptians” by Poi Dog Pondering

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about walking is getting a better view of what’s around me. That was true on my walks around Boston, which has certainly changed a lot since my college days.

On my way to the Airbnb, I enjoyed crossing the bridge and looking at the water, and also seeing more greenery than I expected.

In fact, on all my walks – to the Airbnb, to and from the conference center, and back to South Station – I saw a number of flowers, and far more trees than when I went to college at Northeastern. I even saw some newly planted trees along Summer Street, which was encouraging.

I also spotted a new bike lane, and some signs for cars to be careful opening their doors because of cyclists.

And I got to see some nice cloud formations, stretch my legs, and get some fresh air. Well, as fresh as Boston air can be, but it actually wasn’t bad.

A Couple of Challenges

Of course, I also found out which spots of the sidewalks needed repair, given that I had a wheeled suitcase. Overall, though, they were in pretty good shape, and at least they were consistent. I didn’t get to any points where the sidewalk ends like I sometimes do at home.

I also got a bit turned around in one spot on my way to the Airbnb, since I encountered a five or six-way intersection with poor signage. My Maps app told me which road to get on, but I wasn’t quite sure which one it was, and it took a couple of tries. Luckily I didn’t get far before I figured it out.

Worthwhile in the End

In general, though, the walking was definitely worthwhile, and for more than just the exercise.

Since I haven’t done that kind of walking for a while, especially with luggage, it was affirming and motivating to know I could still do it. I was pleased, though I did need to stretch my legs more afterward.

That’s why I decided to walk everywhere. Yes, it also saved a little money, but it just felt better for me in many ways to get out and about.

Plus, since I was going to a clean energy conference, it was nice to know I wasn’t contributing to any emissions, at least for that short time.

The only time I really thought about getting a Lyft was on my way back to the bus station, since I wasn’t sure I’d have time to catch the bus. But we got out of our last session in plenty of time, and it was a lovely afternoon for a walk.

Looking Ahead

All this got me thinking about ways I can try to incorporate more walking again into my regular routine.

One way is simply getting back out for walks for the sake of walking. I haven’t been doing as much of that, either, since I keep feeling like I don’t have time. But even getting out for 10 or 20 minutes would do me good, so it’s not a huge commitment.

I also want to get back to walking to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods when I’m at work. If part of my brain tries to convince me that it’s too far, or too hard, I can remind it that I did all this walking in Boston, and that was further than the walk to the stores, and I survived just fine.

Plus, the difficulty with parking at Trader Joe’s is good incentive to walk rather than drive.

I’m also thinking of taking the bus to work once a week, which will add a little walking time and reduce a little carbon. (As an aside, the reason I don’t take the bus on a regular basis is because it can take a long time to go the three miles, up to 40 minutes.)

I will say that I don’t know if I’ll do quite as much in the winter – it can be treacherous to go walking after a storm or when conditions are icy – but I’ll do as much as I can. And really, that’s the best any of us can do.

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