Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Walking vs. driving vs. walking...

I am eating lunch right now, which is why I have time for another quick post. (CYA people, always CYA. Although I work for myself, so I'm really just C-ing my A from myself.)

I run 30 miles a week. I work out at the Y several additional hours per week on top of that. But I admit that outside of those planned activities I lead a pretty sedentary life. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, a lot of time sitting in a courtroom. I try to vary that by standing in the courtroom, and walking back and forth a few feet between courtrooms, and I always take the stairs when I have occasion to go the second floor (which doesn't even necessarily happen daily), but none of this is very laborious.

And I drive places. A lot. Now granted, my house, office, court, favored grocery store, Starbucks, and the YMCA are all within a two mile radius (meaning that any one of those locations is less than two miles from my house), so as far as consuming gasoline I am pretty good.

Since I live in town I try to walk instead of drive as much as possible (when I think of it). I do some of my grocery stops on my way home from a run. In the summer I like to walk to the Y, when time allows. "Time allowing" is a always a big thing. In order to walk somewhere I have to allow a half hour for a trip that I might do in a few minutes with the car.

This spring I decided to try to walk to work twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is carefully planned to coincide with mornings when I have a little more time to spare before work (because they're non-running days), and I don't have the early Pilates class after work. Also, I can avoid carrying large stacks of files to and from my office a couple times a week, but I need the car to transport stuff sometimes.

The walk to work plan has been pretty successful; I did it for two weeks in a row earlier on. Then I was in St. Louis for a week; I don't remember what happened the week after I returned; and last week I know it rained constantly all week, and I just didn't want to walk in the rain.

So that brings us to today. And I did successfully make the walk to work this morning. But I had a vehicle parked in the court lot that I left behind yesterday when I picked up my car after getting the window fixed (broken by a car prowler on Friday), so once again, here I am at work with a car on a walk day.

This is where bad habits come in. Even with a car in the lot, there was nothing preventing me from walking to Starbucks to get a latte this morning as I would if I had no car. But since I had the car, I drove. (Although I did use the non-walking time saved to get some extra work done, and I did load up a stack of files to transport to my office.)

Maybe if the weather had been a little nicer I would have ditched the car and walked anyway, but it's hard to get into the mindset of allowing enough time to walk places instead of drive, when you have the option of driving. Or, alternatively, it's hard to get out of the mindset of just jumping into the car to run an errand.

When I am in London I have no car and I walk everywhere. Even when I take a bus or the underground I walk many blocks to get to and from the various stops. It's second nature. In a city like London, driving (if I even had a car) would be far more troublesome (what with the traffic, crazy streets, lack of parking, etc.).

I am thinking of buying a new bike so I can ride some of the places I might otherwise drive. I am intrigued by this bike that has an extra-large rack for carrying packages. Of course, if I rode it to work,* while I might solve the problem of transporting files, I would have a number of different problems... what to do about helmet hair; whether my bike would get stolen from court, office, stores, the Y; what to wear to accommodate both riding and working (so as not to have to change my clothes too often). I'm afraid bicycle wear might be outside even my interpretation of "business casual."

Summer is a great time to try some of these alternative ways of being active, like walking or biking to work. Because of the long days, it's daylight both to and from work. Eventually, we hope, the weather will be warm and dry. Even today, although it's not warm at least it is dry, so far.

I'm actually thinking (this is a secret), that because some of my scheduled things for this afternoon have been canceled, that I might drive the car home and walk back to work, since I would then make the into a full walking day, to and from work. Especially a good idea because I'm going out to dinner tonight and not going to the Y. (My lazy ass is suggesting maybe I should just stay and work. My lazy brain is saying go walk!)

*Of course I realize that many people bicycle many miles to work every day. Relatively speaking, my dilemma over whether to ride a mile and a half to work may seem trivial. But let me assure you that it takes as much work to prepare for a one mile bike ride to work as a fifteen-mile ride to work.

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