Apparently Americans don't walk very much. That's actually not really news to me, and not only because the article I linked there is a year and a half old; monitoring the sidewalks around town makes it clear that most people in Bedford, at least, don't like to use anything other than a private automobile for purposes of transportation. That doesn't mean that people aren't out and about: there are plenty of joggers, dog walkers, and couples taking romantic strolls. But all that is recreational; whenever folks want to get anywhere—even if it's the Whole Foods less than a mile away—they hop in their cars.
Though I suppose I can't blame them. According to famous walkability-rating website Walk Score our address comes in at 43, which is defined as "Car-Dependent". "Most errands require a car", the report tells us. Whether that assessment defines or reflects people's behavior, they're going to be driving most places. Which is kind of silly, because as well as the Whole Foods we can also walk to another grocery store, a library, a post office, a wide variety of restaurants (including an excellent ice cream store), playgrounds, and swimming, all in under a mile and a half. What else? Hardware store, office supplies, two TX Company clothing stores, even auto parts are within striking distance of our little suburban home. Sure, a mile and a half takes up to half an hour each way, but think of all the interesting sights you'll see as you stroll. And if things were any closer, it'd feel like we were living in the city. We don't really want to live in the city, see, and we'll walk a bit more if that means we can keep our big yard.
Not that we always have to walk. Thankfully, we also have bicycles, and today saw an important first for our family: we took three bikes out on an errand. Harvey is as yet limited to not much more than two miles round trip, and to the sidewalks and bike paths (he's also not really a fan of big hills right now—though, to be fair, neither is Leah when she's hauling both boys), but that's enough to get him some useful places. Even better, the rack on his bike lets him bring things home with him—today his cargo was only a real-estate flyer, sure, but the concept is sound.
Even with a four-year-old moving under his own power our cycling speed beats walking (to say nothing of the reduction in effort required), and when he's riding with Leah our rate and range is obviously improved tremendously. That means that, contra Walk Score, we don't require a car hardly at all; as it is we largely only drive to the cheap grocery store the next town over, to church, and to outings in the country. "Only"—it still comes out to an outing by car at least every other day, enough that I don't have any desire to join the ranks of the "car-free". Plus, how would we go on vacation?! Which is all good, because I recognize that my own limits are just as arbitrary as those of my neighbors who want to drive around the corner. I could do without a car altogether, but it would make my life harder; they probably feel the same way about walking to Whole Foods. Totally fair—to each his own. I'm just glad we live in a place that makes it so easy for those of us who want to to buck the non-walking trend.