People Don’t Walk In The Suburbs

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve decided to pass on getting a car for now which means when I go out, I either walk or ride my bike. I took a short walk to the bank today and it is quite obvious that people don’t walk in the suburbs.

This is a huge change since there are people walking alll the time in Japan. Even when I visited my sister in San Francisco, there were plenty of people walking the streets, but in the suburbs where I am now, nobody walks. On an hour round trip walk, I passed exactly 3 other people walking – all three high school kids. There wasn’t another adult to be seen.

I don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing, but it made me feel a bit strange as I walked along. It seemed the drivers looked upon me as an oddity as I made my way toward my destination. Is it really such a strange site to see someone walking down a street in the suburbs these days?

It seems that bike riders are a bit more accepted. I saw more of them out on the road than other walkers, although they too were still by far in the minority. While biking does get me around faster, truth be told, I really enjoy walking. It gives me time to relax and think where I have to always be on the look-out for cars not paying attention when riding a bike.

Does anyone else out there who live in the suburbs besides me walk?

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12 Responses to People Don’t Walk In The Suburbs

  1. ~Dawn says:

    I would have to say, here in colorado, people drive to ski, camp, hike or bike the mountains. But in town, they don’t exercise. No rarely biking and walking around here. Myself included.
    For me If I have errands, I have saved up a number of things to do, so the car or scooter is the best to use to get around for everything being a good 3-4 miles away

  2. Retireyoung says:

    I have the same feeling when I go back to Australia. My mum lives pretty far from a station and nobody can believe that I would prefer to walk.

  3. R J says:

    I live in the ‘burbs and like ~Dawn, I try to bunch up errands and make just the one trip by car. I have tried to walk, but whenever I have done so, I feel like the goldfish in the bowl. Everyone just stares in amazement! Also, there is the absence of a continuous sidewalks (something for the planning depts. to think about!). So you may find yourself merrily walking along and all of sudden, no sidewalk!…you need to traverse uncut grassy ‘knolls’ replete with bugs and weeds. Not so conducive to walking, especially when ‘get more exercise’ ‘fight obesity’ are the war cries of today!

  4. After returning from six months in Europe, I felt very inclined to walk everywhere. When I moved back to the states, I was living in an area that was somewhere between urban and suburban. Even there, no one walked. Some suburbs even seem to openly discourage walking by not having sidewalks. I think that one reason people don’t walk in suburbs is because things tend to be far apart. Also, there’s the ingrained association of cars and suburbs that might prevent some people from even considering walking. And sadly, some people care too much about what others will think to walk in an area where almost no one else does it. More power to you for walking though. It sets a good example, it’s free, and it’s great exercise.

  5. Zach says:

    Yes, the problem with most suburbs is that anything you might want to walk to is too far away. Somehow the idea became that suburbs needed to be these vast oceans of residential housing with absolutely no stores or services located in them. My dad tells me fondly of “the good old days” when each neighborhood had its own grocery store, etc. so that people could easily walk if they wanted. But these days it just doesn’t seem to be the case.

  6. Vinnie says:

    I just moved from Philadelphia to suburban south Florida a couple of weeks ago, and I can definitely say that I walk less. About the only people I see walking in my neighborhood are a) doing it for fitness, or b) getting to the nearest bus station. There are bike riders, but the vast majority of people getting around are using cars to do so. It’s pretty weird after living in a downtown area for 2 years.

  7. driver says:

    walking in the suburbs is like an oxymoron.

    life in the suburbs seems to be created with the car in mind. vs life in urban / downtown attracts more walking, more window shopping opportunities. suburbs are usually house after house and an occassional neighbor.

    some urban areas where i love walking: nyc, london, paris

    urban areas i stay away from: downtown LA

  8. Alison says:

    Yes. I live in the suburbs with no car. I walk to work (about 6 blocks). It’s a must for my budget and helps the environment. But I have to tell you when I borrow or rent a car for the day to get errands done I feel human again. Suburbs were not designed for walking. I am an oddity. I don’t know what looks I get walking to work, but I know I get some really strange ones when I explain to people why I will have trouble getting somewhere.

  9. Mark says:

    While visiting some suburb dwelling relatives in FL I went out for a walk to the store. On the walk home two people stopped to ask if I was ok or needed help. Their reason for thinking something was wrong– I was walking!

  10. Chris says:

    I live in the burbs, and I would walk. However, they (local government) do not make it accessible here. We have not side walks, and everything is seperated making your saturday a long walking adventure. I’m not talking about an hour, or two, but 4-5 hours between walking to the grocery store and other stores. I wish I could move back to the city, but the public transit in the east (between philadelphia and New York) has a become horror story with the price hikes of Amtrak. So until somebody makes a policy change, I’m stuck driving my little civic around. I’m buying another bike soon, maybe this one won’t get stolen like the other four…

  11. moom says:

    I grew up in England and also lived in Israel so this whole driving everywhere idea is strange to me. I don’t have a full licence and live in a small downtown area in the US. One problem is that I can afford to take a taxi to get to someone’s house that isn’t near transport but they would then insist on driving me home. Which feels like I am putting them out of their way. So I just don’t go…

  12. moom says:

    PS something that always made me wonder. What happens to people who live in US suburbs who lose their driving licence for whatever reason. Or perhaps they have an injury and can’t drive. What happens then? Even if I had a licence I would want to make sure I was near public transport etc.

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