Monday, 17 June 2013

Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear

Spending our weekend on foot allowed
us the chance to experience the city on
a more personal level

Last weekend, my husband and I spent a glorious couple of kid-free days traipsing around Seattle. From our accommodations in Pioneer Square, to Pike Market and everything in between, by the end we felt like we had been walking non-stop for weeks! But that's nothing out of the ordinary for us, and I personally am happy walking and discovering new places. At one point in our travels, we passed a family on their way to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners. One of the boys, likely around ten or eleven, asked how much further, and let out an exhausted sigh when he heard the response. I remember thinking, "Wow, it's only five blocks...that's nothing!" On any given day it is not out of the ordinary for me to walk upwards of 20 blocks to get to activities for the kids, or to do some local shopping. Never mind riding a bike, where we have been known to travel thirty-plus kilometres some days. 

What I've come to realize, speaking with friends and family and hearing by-passers on the street, is that the perceived distance about how far things are from each other is significantly skewed when most trips are taken in a motor vehicle. With the speed being travelled, it's no wonder that a ten minute trip can seem like such a great distance when you spend it sitting down watching the world whizz by. When travelling by foot or on a bike you get a true sense of the distances covered, because you are using your own energy to get you from point A to B.

Speaking from personal experience, when we first went car-free in 2010, I remember feeling so daunted by the idea of travelling six kilometres to go downtown. Surely, a trip that takes ten to fifteen minutes on the Skytrain will take over an hour on a bike. But then I did it, while towing children, and found that after only thirty minutes of pleasant riding, six kilometres was easy. It is amazing how by walking or getting on a bike instead of driving or taking transit, you are suddenly aware of how close things really are. Nowadays, I think nothing of travelling as I did today, riding thirty kilometres to meet my daughter and her class at the beach, and then back to help organize an appreciation party for the teachers that make her school the amazing place it is for each and every student.

I guess the point is, it wasn't until I got out of a car and started using my own two feet to get me around that I discovered the places I want or need to get to are actually closer than I first thought. Sure, sometimes it may not be the easiest way to get there, or may take a little more effort physically. But given the expense of driving, perhaps spending a few more minutes to get there, and learning that the distance travelled may not be as daunting as you initially perceived, the rewards of going by foot or bike may be a surprisingly rewarding experience.

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