When I was a kid in military housing in California I could walk to school, a movie theater, a fast-food place, the commissary and the exchange (basically a grocery store and a department store), an ice cream place, a pool, and multiple playgrounds. In these places there were sidewalks, paths, or roads with large shoulders on which we could walk to reach our destinations in relative safety without taking the car. Once we moved away from California, this changed, and I spent the next 14 years of my life in places where walking not only wasn’t done, it wasn’t safe to do.
For our first decade together, my spouse and I lived in largely not-safe-to-walk areas. Then we moved out West and spent a wonderful eight-plus years living in neighborhoods where we could walk safely and with relative ease to basic locations: grocery stores, cafes, playgrounds, libraries, farmers markets. I fear those years gave us a taste of something we’re going to struggle to find again.
In our current place of residence, we’re back to unsafe walking, and it’s really kind of bugging us. We are about a mile from a strip mall (grocery store, hair cutting place, Starbucks, an office supply store, a gym), two and a half miles from the downtown of our town, and four-and-a-half miles from our church. But to get to any of these places, we have to traverse along narrow sidewalk-less roads that we share with cars driving rather fast and not at all expecting to see a woman in a ridiculous sun hat pushing a stroller with a seven-year-old skipping along behind her.
What we’re wondering is, is how we’re living now the norm? Do most people live in places where they can safely walk to get a gallon of milk or a cup of coffee, or do most people live like we do now, close enough to walk but afraid to do so?
I want to hear from you. Do you live in a place where you could safely walk to get food? If not, does this bother you?
Please let me know in the comments. If you’re so inclined, you could figure out your neighborhood’s Walk Score and share that, too. Our current home scores 35/100. In California, it was 74, and in Utah it was 62-64. Brisbane (in Australia) gets a Walk Score of 100. (No wonder Tucker and Victoria love it so much!)