I must confess that it has been an inordinately long time since I've added anything here. There was a period when I thought other people were covering this topic better than I was from post-to-post and that the walkability of Calgary neighbourhoods was something that I may have been a repetitive voice on.
At the risk of being a repetitive voice I'm going to resume in earnest because there are so many thing that connect to the topic of walking rather than just the appeal or walkability of our city and its neighbourhoods.
At this point I'm going to reflect on why I'm the walker that I am because it is something that puzzles me as much as anyone else, unless it is simply a matter of being that stingy. I have purchased a car since I last posted anything here, a red hybrid that was purchased for the purpose of ferrying our newborn around and something I occasionally refer to as my mid-life crisis car, it being red and all.
Despite the purchase I will still insist on using transit or foot to go to or from some of the destinations I go with my son. On Saturdays I often walk the sleeping lad home some 8 kilometres after a constitutional pizza lunch with friends. It exposes me regularly to some of the drearier and more poorly equipped stretches of the city but I also get a chance to stroll through Mission, downtown and Kensington as I return to home as well and let my son take in some of the sights as we roll through the city.
The long walks go back to my teens, however. I grew up in the greater Halifax area and from ages 10-15, I lived in a suburb or subdivision outside of Dartmouth and every once in a while I would head to the nearest library, if the bus wasn't on schedule, I would never bother to wait for it and just head off on foot. It was about a 5K walk one way and the uphill return trip was somewhat daunting but it never phased me. The only year I had to take the bus to school during that time was in Grade 6 and the walks to school (what a novel concept) were never particularly long either.
The walk was a chance to leverage some adolescent independence and have a bit time to my introverted self. The impulse to get on the bus and go further, to a mall for one, never appealed to me as often. At a time that predated the walkman there was nothing to entertain me along the way other than my thoughts or the movement of traffic around me. I still don't know what it was that compelled me to walk as much as I did other than that small dollop of independence.
To this day it remains. Other than the walks with my son that fill many of my Saturdays, it is remarkable to say that walked to and from work for near 6 of the last 9 years and when pushed I've resorted to transit rather than commuting in my own car.
Going back to those walks alongside a 4-lane highway to get to the library, there has been little that has deterred me from heading somewhere on foot. Walking along MacLeod Trail has never been appealing or discouraging for that matter, but I have done it - often to the surprise of the drivers who seem to find a pedestrian out of place. With my walks to work on 14 Avenue SW there is probably a similar emphasis on the vehicle over the pedestrian but there are more kindred spirits walking on that route.
The benefits are numerous, from the simple movement of my feet and chance to burn calories (or in my case eat that many more without ballooning) to the state of mind that a good walk instills at the start of the day. For me it probably staves off a restlessness that would not be slaked by sitting in a car for a commute to work.
More thoughts to follow. Promise.