The joys of walking for transport

I’ve never driven a car, and I’ve not lived in a household with a car since my mid twenties. I’ve walked to shop, and carried groceries home. I’ve used trains and buses, and occasionally I get lifts, but mostly I’ve walked, or cycled. I don’t really enjoy cycling so these days I mostly get places by walking to them. Where I live was picked out with that in mind.

Most of the time, walking for transport is a joy. I get outside, I get exercise, I see wildlife, I meet people. While I’m walking, I get time to process ideas and feelings and come up with ideas. If I’m walking to work or to meetings, I get time to ready myself. I arrive calm and mentally prepared and I am never held up by traffic. At the end, I get to do my digesting on the way home, and I usually arrive home calm and on top of things.

I do not have to do radical things to feel adventurous. Every now and then I end up having to walk in adverse weather conditions – in snow, and ice and heavy rain. I have the kit for this, although as downpours increase in violence, I get soaked through more often. I do not need to seek out mountains to feel a bit heroic. Some weeks, all I have to do is handle the regular shopping in the conditions around me. I do not have to challenge myself with grand gestures to feel alive. I feel alive every time I’m going somewhere.

Often, the green answers are presented as losses. Could you give up your car? Could you do without it? As though the car makes us better off, and poverty is what we get in its absence. I’ve spent enough mornings walking past lines of traffic, seeing the faces of people stuck in their cars. None of them are smiling. I’ve got stress free easy movement, peace of mind, lower expenses and a healthier body because I walk. Every time I walk past a traffic queue I am reminded of the riches inherent in my choices.

There is so much freedom and independence to be had if you can set of from your own door and head out into the world on your own two feet. We could leave the roads for those who need them – for those who do not have the privilege of being able to walk, for the emergency services, for the movement of stuff too heavy to carry about on shoulders. We could empty our roads and fill our pavements, and put calmer human interactions into our days. We could improve our air quality and our personal health. It remains a mystery to me why more people don’t see the freedom and wealth inherent in walking as more desirable than the cost and stress of being in traffic.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

15 responses to “The joys of walking for transport

  • Bill Watson

    I thought we covered this a few months ago. I love cars and have owned 52 of these supposed air-polluters since 1962. I still have three – an MG, a Riley and a Mazda SUV and belong to two historic car clubs. Have written hundreds of magazine articles on motoring events and cars as well as a comprehensive illustrated history book on a world-renowned vintage motoring event involving up to 2000 vehicles every year since 1980. I couldn’t do without cars and hope not to still be around when insipid over-expensive electrics become the norm. What’s going to drive trucks and tow caravans or boats in future?
    [‘Bay to Birdwood Run: 1980-2010; History in Motion’ is still available from me at just AU$20 per copy.]

    • Nimue Brown

      Cars are a big part of how we are killing the planet, expect many more blogs from me on the joys and advantages of walking and why we have to end our love affair with this damaging, planet killing, technology. I do not care in the slightest that you love cars. I do care about having air I can breathe and not having our landscapes destroyed as we try to frack up the last of the unrenewable energy sources. I’m somewhat fussed about not going extinct as a species, also, and about leaving a planet that our children and grand children can live on. I look forward to the day when outlooks like yours are consigned to history.

      • Nimue Brown

        we need radical new ideas and different ways of doing things and we have to be prepared to make change, or we are going to die out as a species. we are going to make all life on Earth unviable – we’ve got 12 years, give or take. We need to stop justifying our hobbies and luxuries and start getting real about what’s going on.

      • Bill Watson

        Twelve years? Where do those arbitrary numbers come from?
        Sounds fatalistic and perhaps hedonistic, but would life be worth continuing without hobbies or luxuries?

  • Nicola Thompson

    when I lived in town I loved not having a car. I had a bus pass, and that was all I needed. I save so much money not shelling out for insurance or fuel. But now I live on a farm, 10 miles from any town, and three miles from any village with any more than a pub in it. I’d like to be carless again.

    • Nimue Brown

      The stripping of resources out of rural communities is a big part of the problem. When we vote for efficiency, we vote for centralisation, and not being able to live in the countryside without a car is a consequence.

  • manonbicycle

    I’ve never owned a car or driven one. I’ve never liked them! I think they are addictive, people can’t seem to give them up, once they’ve had one and they take a lot of your money up

    I’ve always walked or cycled, taken a coach or train for longer journeys.

    I used to feel a bit ashamed about not having a car, but now it’s considered a virtue! Motoring impedes ones appreciation of the sacredness of the land, turning it into an inter-urban wasteland.

    I sometimes use the website cyclestreet to find alternative ways of walking and cycling to places. It tries to use the ways less travelled, taking in bridleways and quiet roads.

    • Nimue Brown

      totally with you on this.

    • Bill Watson

      Sounds ok in mild climates but try walking or cycling long distances in 40C+ heat and scorching sunlight or -30C in Arctic conditions, even pouring rain at moderate temperatures. Sorry, but to eschew vehicular protection and convenience is a denial of a sensible approach to life.

      • manonbicycle

        can only speak for myself, I’m 65, live in the UK and never had a problem.

        I used to cycle 25 miles a day to get to work and back, in all weathers, generally a pleasant time, noting the changing seasons.

        Never really enjoyed travelling in other people’s cars.

        I wouldn’t think motoring in 40+ 0r -30 would be particularly pleasant, though I have run a couple of half marathon races in 30+.

      • Bill Watson

        Try doing that in Australia!

  • manonbicycle

    Like I say, I don’t live in Australia.

    • Bill Watson

      I rode a bicycle through my teenage years in the UK, then got my first car at 21 and never looked back. Despite the Aussie city fathers’ imprecations to ride bikes here, I’ll stick to my cars, thanks.

  • lornasmithers

    I gave up my car about 10 years ago due to a combination of not being able to afford it and environmental reasons. I mainly walk, cycle, or use buses and trains but for places I can’t get to I’ve occasionally borrowed a friend’s car and have just recently been insured on my dad’s car. I’ll somewhat guiltily admit I rather like cars, the experience of driving (when it’s not busy!), and the way they have their own personalities… I only use a car if a place is outside walking or cycling distance and there is no train or bus or the train/bus journey is stupidly roundabout or the fare is too expensive. One of the strange querks of living in Preston is that is far cheaper to travel south by car than train although trains going north are far cheaper!

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