Monday, April 20, 2009

Pedestrians are anything but pedestrian

This morning I responded to Bruce Elkin's Happy Earth Week greeting on Facebook. As Bruce is wont to do, he challenged folk to view environmentalism from a creative rather than problem solving point of view.

That got me thinking about the boldest eco-friendly move I had made in quite a while, which was to sell my vehicle back in February. Taking up Bruce's challenge to look at it as a creative act, I reflected on the surprisingly pleasant side benefits I have experienced.

I love walking, and I get to exercise without going to a gym. When I walk, I feel much more engaged with my neighbourhood than used to be the case when I drove. I interact with people, and I notice small details.

Because of the way in which Bruce frames things, I felt motivated to describe my new lifestyle in creative rather than problem solving terms. So that got me thinking. Would I describe this as a car-free lifestyle? Perhaps a pedestrian lifestyle?

Pedestrian lifestyle! That stopped me dead in my tracks. Pedestrian, when it's used as an adjective, usually means ordinary, nondescript, dull.

That makes it sound as if the act of walking is boring, while other ways of getting around, by implication, are more exciting.

Ummm ....... Hello ....... Walking improves my health, it strengthens the social fabric of my neighbourhood, it's economical, and it reduces my carbon footprint.

But it's far from pedestrian because, more than anything else, I find it fun.


Mog said...

It is good to live without a car, but whether or not you can do it depends so much on public transport. I lived in London, UK for 25 years and only had a car for the last few years, I needed it to get to work as there was no public transport. The further you live from a city centre the more you need that car, especially around here where we have one bus a week to the city.

I agree that you are fitter when you have to walk more, and all those steps on the tube. I've never been so unfit since I moved here.

Good on you girl, once more acting on your principles. That a hard thing to do

ms toast burner said...

Eventhough I now have a car, I spent ten years as an 'urban hiker' and completely agree with the positives that you mention, Judy.

I notice my surroundings more when I'm in them more fully; the sights, sounds, smells... although in my old Beltline neighbourhood this was not always the most pleasant of experiences! haha... but always interesting.

I still walk a lot of the time as I do, like you, simply enjoy it. said...

Great piece, Judy. And a great step toward a smaller ecological footprint. I sold my car last Feb, and don't miss it at all. I've been exploring my "walkshed" and my "bikeshed", seeing how much ground I can comfortably cover on foot and cycle. I consider myself an Earth-friendly walker/biker. Cheers!