walk http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/5264/all en-US The good life on less energy--even in the US http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bicycle-on-rural-road.jpg" alt="Bicycle on rural road" title="Bicycle on Rural Road" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="185" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whenever I write a post about energy, I point out that we know it&#39;s possible to have a high standard of living while using less energy--people in European countries do, so it must be possible.  That always draws comments from people who say that things are different here.  When it comes to opportunities for saving energy, that&#39;s simply not true.</p> <p>Oh, sure, the Europeans have a much better train system.  In the US we&#39;ve spent that money on airports and highways.  But we do have <a href="/travel-on-amtrak">passenger rail</a>, and it&#39;s actually a pleasure to ride.</p> <p>Many European cities are also more compact than many US cities, making it easier to get around on foot or by bicycle.  But there are plenty of nice, compact US cities.</p> <p>Mass transit is spotty in the US compared to Europe, but there&#39;s <a href="/high-tech-for-mass-transit">good mass transit</a> in many US cities.</p> <p>Many European cities are more friendly to bicycles than many US cities, but there are plenty of cyclists in the US, and many US cities are bicycle-friendly.</p> <p>So, all these things exist in the US; <strong>they&#39;re just not widely distributed.</strong></p> <p>I&#39;d like to make two points in relation to that observation.</p> <p>First, as fuel prices continue to rise, all these energy-saving advantages that the Europeans have will become more widely distributed in the US as well.  As long as you live in a town or city (as opposed to a <a href="/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">rural area</a>), these advantages will come to you eventually.</p> <p>Second, you can choose where to live:  In a compact, bicycle-friendly city that&#39;s on an Amtrak line and has good mass transit, or someplace else.  </p> <p>Making a drastic change like where you live is not something to be done lightly.  Doing it smoothly may require a long lead time.  There may be jobs to find--even careers to change.  There may be houses to sell.  There may be elderly relatives that you&#39;d rather keep in their long-time home than move to another city.  There may be children who&#39;d much rather graduate from school with their friends then at some new school where they don&#39;t know anybody.  But, even taking all that into account, you still choose where to live--now and in the future.</p> <p>I&#39;d like to gently suggest that waiting for these advantages to come to you is probably the wrong choice, for three reasons.</p> <p>First, you miss out on the advantages in the meantime.  You&#39;ll be having to buy more fuel than people who live in communities that support efficiency. </p> <p>Second, as those advantages come to more and more places, you&#39;ll be stuck paying for them.  If you move someplace where these advantages already exist, you&#39;ll be taking advantage of ones that have already been paid for.  If you stay where you are, you can expect taxes to go up to pay for bringing rail and mass transit to you.  No doubt the costs will end up being spread around--but that just means that the people who get these advantages last will have been paying longest for everyone else.</p> <p>Third, these advantages will increasingly be reflected in property values.  It&#39;s already started.  A couple decades ago, being on a bus route was a negative.  (It brought undesirables--i.e. poor people--to the area.)  More recently, it&#39;s been pretty much a neutral.  (Even poor people have cars, so who cares?)  Just very recently, though, it&#39;s begun to boost property values.  (Quick test:  look in real estate ads and see if they&#39;ve started mentioning being on a bus line as a positive.  They&#39;ve always done it for apartments.  Now they&#39;re doing it for houses too.)  Property values in communities without these advantages haven&#39;t suffered much yet, because communities that provide no services can have low taxes.  But as the taxes go up anyway, the lack of services will drive property prices down.</p> <p>As fuel prices continue to rise, these &quot;European&quot; advantages will spread.  But they&#39;ll spread pretty slowly.  The US has spent trillions of dollars on infrastructure that really only useful for cars and planes.  Things like nationwide passenger rail and citywide mass transit systems don&#39;t just pop up overnight--they&#39;ll cost trillions of dollars as well (although a just a few billion will bring us much closer to the Europeans).</p> <p>Some of you--probably many of you, given the sort of people who read Wise Bread--already live someplace that has some or all the advantages that Europeans have enjoyed for decades.  As I see it, the rest of you can move to where you have these advantages as well, or you can stay where you are.  But, if you make the latter choice, you&#39;ll not only lose out on the advantages, you&#39;ll do so while still having to pay taxes to provide them for everyone else, and then you&#39;ll have to sit back and watch as your property values decline and the values of the properties in places that have them go up, making it more and more expensive to move in the future.</p> <p>Is your local area on the leading edge for any of these things?  Are you on an Amtrak line?  Do you have a good bus system?  Are there places to live that are within walking distance of shopping and jobs?  Are the roads safe for bicycles?  If you&#39;ve got some of these things, and the rest are coming, then you may be set already.  If not, be sure your plan for the future includes not just higher prices for fuel, but also higher taxes to pay for the infrastructure improvements your area needs.  If that doesn&#39;t appeal, be sure your plan includes moving to someplace that supports a lower-energy lifestyle.</p> <p>We know there are ways to have a high standard of living while using less fuel.  The Europeans have demonstrated one for us.  We&#39;re heading that direction as well--our present course simply isn&#39;t going to be affordable much longer.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/welcome-to-container-city-how-shipping-containers-are-recycled-into-green-dwellings">Welcome to Container City - How Shipping Containers Are Recycled into Green Dwellings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-confronting-collapse">Book Review: Confronting Collapse</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living Real Estate and Housing bicycling bike buses clean energy conserve energy energy mass transit rail save energy train train travel walk walking Thu, 10 Jul 2008 12:18:50 +0000 Philip Brewer 2227 at http://www.wisebread.com Nobody walks in LA - or anywhere! http://www.wisebread.com/nobody-walks-in-la-or-anywhere <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/walking.jpg" alt=" " width="314" height="235" /></p> <p>There&#39;s a saying that no one ever walks anywhere in Los Angeles. Apparently, that idea has been imported to where I live. Now if only we could get a King Taco.</p> <p>I just started up a contracting job with a little company named Microsoft. My new team is relegated to a building that&#39;s pretty old - such is the case with the less sexy projects at the First Evil Empire (Starbucks is the Second, in case you didn&#39;t already know the rankings). </p> <p>Microsoft has lots of campuses all over the Puget Sound... actually, all over the world. I happen to be located on a large campus in Redmond that apparently isn&#39;t even the main one. This company is too big for me to wrap my brain around right now. </p> <p>Anyway, for contractors, it can take some time to get up and going at Microsoft, what with all the security and passcodes and email aliases and what not. Due to some delays, I found myself this morning with nothing to do, no internet connection, and an hour to kill before my boss arrived. So I went for a walk.</p> <p>If I were headed to another building at Microsoft, I might have taken a shuttle, depending on how far away it was. But I just needed to meander around and enjoy some fresh air before buckling down and being chained to my desk for the rest of the day. And today is a mild, sunny, lightly breezy day.</p> <p>I have this weird thing about business parks - I really, really like them. Yes, they are soulless and sterile and eerily quiet at times. Yes, sometimes all of the employees who stream out of the building at lunch time start to look the same. But my house, the place where I live, is located near a major freeway. During the warmer months, intoxicated college kids, various vagabonds, and at least one convicted peeping tom are known to take nightime naps on my walkway, scaring the bejesus out of me as I return from an evening out. Garbage trucks roar through the alley every morning - it&#39;s not a quiet place. Comparatively, business parks are like, well, like parks. Quiet, tree-lined, clean. The vegetation in the Pacific Northwest can be beautiful to behold, with the occasional stand of towering evergreens. Where there&#39;s landscaping, it is green and simple.</p> <p>You might think that all of this raving about the natural and landscaped beauty of Redmond, WA is overblown. I&#39;m only sharing it because walking, for me, is usually an energizing yet relaxing experience. It didn&#39;t seem like an unusal activity to participate in.</p> <p>First of all, on a 30-minute walk that passed at least seven different companies, I saw only one other person on foot. He was walking fast, with his head down, like he didn&#39;t want to be seen. But there were plenty of cars out and about. Lots of single drivers, many of them Microsoft employees, getting around in their Suburbans and Explorers and Land Cruisers.</p> <p>I got stared at. A lot. As far as I could gather, there was nothing hanging from my nose or growing out of my ears. I&#39;m not the kind of woman who turns heads, so it wasn&#39;t striking beauty that was blinding these drivers. Nor am I so hideously deformed that I garner any kind of unusual attention. </p> <p>I stopped by a corner gas station to throw out an empty milk carton that I had found on the sidewalk - that act garnered many, many stares from everyone who was filling up. </p> <p>I was dressed normally. I had showered this morning. My fly was up.</p> <p>I was, quite simply, and anomaly. Someone walking around this part of Redmond? Very unusual.</p> <p>Once back on campus, I was startled when one of the Priuses that serves as a Microsoft shuttle slowed down as the driver gestured to me. He rolled down the window and asked if I was looking for something. When I explained that I was just out walking, he sort of shook his head and drove away. I started to wonder if perhaps I should be on the look out for bears or some other dangerous wildlife. Why else would everyone be so shocked to see someone walking around?</p> <p>While eating my lunch in our breakroom a couple of hours later, a maintenance technician paused on his way out the door and asked, &quot;Didn&#39;t I see you walking around earlier?&quot;</p> <p>I wasn&#39;t sure that he was addressing me. &quot;Are you talking to me?&quot; My very best Robert De Niro impression.</p> <p>&quot;Yeah. I saw you out earlier, just walking around and around the parking lot.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I was actually walking <em><strong>through</strong></em> the parking lot, but yeah, that was me.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Do you even <em>work here</em>?&quot;</p> <p>This one baffled me. You have to have a cardkey in order to get into the building, and have to have security clearance to, say, eat lunch by yourself without a chaperone.</p> <p>&quot;Yes, I work here.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In <strong><em>this</em></strong> building?&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I just started.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;But you were out in the parking lot.&quot;</p> <p>I honestly didn&#39;t know what to say to this. I hadn&#39;t been warned against walking across a parking lot on my way into or out of a building.</p> <p>He gave me a stern look for a couple more seconds, and then left through the back door of the lunchroom.</p> <p>Great. One walk around the block, and I was clearly seen as a crazed homeless person camping out in the breakroom with a stolen badge. </p> <p>How did we get the point where walking actually makes you appear as though you were up to no good?</p> <p>I don&#39;t hate cars. I love my car. I drive a lot to places that I can&#39;t reach on foot. But since when did walking become such a suspect activity?</p> <p>I&#39;m going to try to start a walking group here, to see if I can&#39;t bring back the walk.</p> <p><em>(Photo by </em><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/extranoise/"><em>extranoise</em></a><em>)</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nobody-walks-in-la-or-anywhere">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/walk-walk-walk-walk-walk">Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-ultimate-green-workout">The Ultimate &quot;Green&quot; Workout</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-you-should-take-a-walk">25 Reasons Why You Should Take a Walk</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ready-to-buy-some-exercise-equipment-read-this-first">Ready To Buy Some Exercise Equipment? Read This First.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-99-best-fitness-hacks-of-all-time">Flashback Friday: The 99 Best Fitness Hacks of All Time</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Health and Beauty Cars drive exercise Health walk Thu, 10 May 2007 22:52:48 +0000 Andrea Karim 626 at http://www.wisebread.com