Yesterday I decided to walk to the Post Office and then to the library instead of driving, and I have to say, it was a very pleasant experience. It’s hard to resist cliches when you talk about walking somewhere as opposed to driving there. You really do have a chance to notice your surroundings more. It really is less stressful than driving in traffic only to find that there is no where to park. You really do have time to think.
For example, I noticed several businesses on Commonwealth that I hadn’t seen before. While I had noted that there is an Ace Hardware store on Commonwealth and Harbor, I didn’t “see” it. From what I could see through the front windows, it is an old time kind of hardware store. The sort of place that you can buy a KitchenAid stand mixer and also pick up a package of nails. I also had the opportunity to note that they have a huge collection of Smith and Hawken garden wares even they went out of business last summer. I also took note of a wine bar I want to check out and an Italian restaurant with a nice patio.
But more than just noticing shops and restaurants, you notice people. When you walk somewhere, you have the opportunity to really take the temperature of the community. You can actually see people’s faces. Imagine that. And people who are walking, seem way happier than people in cars. When you’re in a car, the people around you are the jerk who cut you off and the moron who keeps changing lanes. There is no such competition or ill will on the sidewalk. At least not in a place like Fullerton. Maybe in Manhattan walkers are more cut throat. But on my way to the library, I smiled at a toddler sitting on the bus bench and she waved back at me. I also listened in on snippets of conversations between people getting off a Metrolink train. They seemed engaged and relaxed. Not harried and drained like most car commuters.
Less philosophical and more in the realm of practicality, I learned that it isn’t really that much faster to drive than it is to walk short distances. I’m not saying that driving isn’t faster, but it doesn’t save as much time as you’d think. Because I was walking, I was able to cut through the train station instead of waiting through several lights to make a left onto Commonwealth. And as I mentioned earlier, there isn’t any congestion on the sidewalks and no need to spend time finding a parking spot. You’re also so mentally engaged–or at least I was–by the shop windows, gardens, and other walkers that time feels like it is passing more quickly.
Walking was such a nice experience, I think I am going to try and convince my husband that we shouldn’t turn on our car’s ignition a single time this weekend. I wonder if we could do it?