First, you have to understand that prior to moving to Over-the-Rhine, I lived in the suburb of Eastgate. There were sidewalks within subdivisions, but there were few, if any, opportunities to walk to any establishment. In most cases, housing was separated from businesses by a busy thoroughfare such as SR 74 or US 32-- even if you were gutsy, crossing five lanes of traffic would probably give you pause.
Now I'm in Over-the-Rhine, and the difference could hardly be more stark. We've shed one car completely, and our second car spends most of its time in the lot. We're within walking distance to groceries and dining, we've hoofed it to Cyclones games and Fountain Square events, and-- my favorite shift of all-- we walk to work.
The difference between walking and driving to work is incredible. A few of my favorite distinctions:
- The exercise. My walk is 1 mile; Dan walks 1.6. Double that over the course of the day, and you have quite a bit more physical exertion than I usually manage.
- The lack of stress/frustration. When you're driving, you're combating other drivers, stop lights, traffic, and more-- all while maneuvering a two-ton vehicle. The stress can be high, even when your drive is routine. Walking, however, eases most of that. You'll still hit the DO NOT WALKs from time to time, but for the most part, the walk is calming and casual. There's less to process at slower speeds, so you're safer and more alert.
- The city as art. Speaking of "less to process," you're able to use all that extra synaptic energy to process the beautiful city around you. For instance, I walk by the old Enquirer building every morning, with its original features and intricate gilding. I take in the largest collection of Italianate architecture in the U.S. as well as some gorgeous examples of Art Deco style.
- Less gasoline. And thus, less carbon footprint. And less cashola, of course.
The commute-by-foot can be tricky, such as when we experience torrential rain or, more recently, early morning temperatures in the high 70s. I've already learned which shoes give me blisters and I've purchased a stronger deodorant. But I wouldn't trade any of it for my beautiful, relaxing walk to work every morning, and the help that it has given me in exploring my new downtown neighborhood.