What has walking got to do with transport?

At the border of a certain North American country

– BORDER GUARD: What’s the purpose of your visit?

– Paulo: I am going to attend a conference

– Humm. What is this conference about?

– It’s about transport

– What?

– Transportation

– Hummm.. What sort of transportation?

– All sorts of transportation. I am going to speak about walking

– Walking?? What does walking have to do with transportation?

Obviously, walking is not a popular thing to do in that country. Walking is such an odd thing to do that people become automatically suspicious if they’re walking in some suburban areas (and the internet says that people have been arrested because of that).

But the exchange above could happen anywhere. Walking is not often seen as a means of transport.

Of course, walking was the first mode of transport humans have used. For many centuries, it was the dominant mode of transport.

Moscow Street of 17th Century, by Aleksandr Lozhkin. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Walking can get us to places where we can do, see, and buy things, or meet other people.

What’s so great about walking is that, besides being a mode of transport, is also a healthy activity. It’s physical activity, which is something most people don’t do enough.

Regular walking reduces the risk of stroke and heart diseases. It can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also burns some calories, so it can help us maintaining a healthy weight.

Walking is also good for mental health and wellbeing. It can reduce stress. It’s time to think and look around (although nowadays most people prefer to stare at their phones instead…)

Paris Street, Rainy Day, by Gustave Caillebotte, 1877. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Walking also facilitates social connections. We have more chances to meet and stop to talk with someone when we walk along a street, slowly, and just next to to building frontages, than when we pass through them inside a vehicle at high speed.

It’s true that, in some cases, the physical activity benefits of walking are balanced with some costs. Walking in polluted, noisy roads, full of cars, can be bad for physical and mental health. And crossing the roads can be dangerous and stressful.

But overall, walking regularly is still a good way of adding physical activity to our lives, with the advantage that it will also take us somewhere.

There will be a lot of posts about walking in this blog. In addition, this website also has a section ONLY about walking, cataloguing walking conditions in cities around the world. So stay tuned. And follow me so you’ll know when I talk about your city.

Walking is good. Berat, Albania. © P.Anciaes