Learning to Walk Again

You'll need good boots for urban hiking

We’ve all heard it said that one must learn to walk before one can run. And it’s not just true of running. We graduate from training wheels, or tricycles, to bicycles. We start with a learner’s permit and later take a driver’s test. And after we pass the test, that’s apparently when we quit walking altogether. As soon as we have a set of car keys, the automobile becomes the standard form of transportation for all occasions – no matter how short the distance.

But now we know that passive transportation is responsible, at least in part, for most of the major illness killing us. Passively rolling around on fossil fuels, we drain our finances, put a terrible strain on our health care system, and fill the air with pollution. Still, for most Americans more than half of all commuter trips and three out of four shopping trips are under five miles in length – ideal for cycling. About 40 percent of all trips are under two miles – ideal for walking. And Louisville is a great place to walk!

Someone please get out and shovel!
Louisville, please shovel your walks.

I’ve been car-free in Louisville for 485 days. I ride my bike a lot to save time. The bicycle gets me to my destination in normal city traffic nearly as fast as a car would. But lately, when I have time, I like to take long, vigorous hikes – as I did tonight. I’m learning to walk all over again. And I’m loving it, even in the snow and ice, with temperatures in the teens.

Tonight’s destination Eiderdown, a new restaurant at 983 Goss Ave. in Germantown, this month’s location for Car-Free Happy Hour. I walked there and back from my home at George Rogers Clark Place in Crescent Hill. I would have guessed the distance at something like five miles each way, but a Google Map search trimmed about 1.5 miles off that estimate. It turns out to be 3.3 miles each way. Less than 7 miles round trip.

Now, I know I’m going to hear a lot of moans and groans when I suggest that 7 miles is no big deal – even with the sidewalks covered with patches of ice and snow. I’m fairly accustomed to the cold weather and I prepare for it. If you’re not spending much time outdoors, make sure you have some good gloves, a hat, something to cover your ears, and a good pair of hiking boots with lugged soles. Start making short trips in your neighborhood. Gradually extend your range to include some of your usual destinations for shopping, dining, and socializing.

Januaray 2011 edition of Louisville Car Free Happy Hour
Louisville Car Free Happy Hour on Jan. 13

Car Free Happy Hour

If you’re interested in making more of your trips by bike, walking or public transit, check out Car Free Happy Hour. It’s a grass roots gathering one night a month, always at a different eatery. The Jan. 13 meeting was very well attended. A clear majority of the more than 40 who showed up rode their bicycles. Several walked and a handful used the bus lines. To find out about the February edition of Car Free Happy Hour, keep an eye on the Louisville Car Free Happy Hour Facebook page.

By the way …

For years on my regular bike commute I remember how unusual it was to meet anyone who regularly used a bicycle to get to work. I made my usual downtown circuit for years without meeting more than a few fellow bike commuters in the warm weather months – and none at all in the winter. That seems to be changing. Tonight, as I walked across town, I met Mark on my way to Eiderdown. and Colin on my way home. I’ve noticed far more cyclists this winter than I ever saw in milder winters of years past. Maybe we’re beginning to get the message that fresh air is good for us.

Grace. Peace. Bicycle Grease.

PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane. Share the road.

…….( )/ ( )
Enjoy the ride home.

© Copyright, Kirk M. Kandle, MMXI