Walking and the Environment
“Today I have grown taller walking with the trees.” Karle Wilson Baker
We all know that exercise is good for you. And walking is probably the easiest way to do it.
But did you know that walking contributes to improving your environment?
Walking improves our quality of life because it helps protect the environment and natural resources. It can also be incorporated into transport systems.
Additional health and environmental benefits come from the fact that walking is a pollution-free activity. It is also a quiet hobby. So we benefit from cleaner air and there is also a reduction in traffic noise.
“Walking is very efficient in the use of urban space and energy, rarely causes injuries and gives vitality to the streets and personal safety. Many car trips are quite short, less than 2 km, which indicates that walking could be a feasible alternative and help reduce pollution from a cold-start vehicle traveling only a short distance.
C. Mason, Transport and health: on the way to a healthier Australia? Australian Medical Journal 2000
In North America and Europe, there are active groups seeking better walking facilities in urban communities. They argue that walking opens up communities and increases the quality of life for everyone.
In 1996, Dan Burden formed Walkables Communities (http://www.walkable.org) in Florida. The purpose of Walkable Communities is,
“…help entire communities, whether large cities or small towns, or parts of communities, i.e. neighborhoods, business districts, parks, school districts, subdivisions, specific road corridors, etc., become more walkable and friendlier for pedestrians”.
In the UK, Living Streets (http://www.livingstreets.org.uk) is a similar organization whose aim is to,
“…the champions of streets and public spaces for people on foot. We work on practical projects to create safe, vibrant and healthy streets for all.
Local streets are a service we all use. But for decades, traffic priorities have been allowed to overwhelm them, leaving them dirty and unsafe. Vibrant streets help revitalize neighborhoods and reconnect people.”
These organizations and their campaigns to rid our communities of excess traffic seem to make sense. It is true that motor vehicles create a great deal of the pollution that we find in the air.
Pollution created by vehicles can contribute to poor health. Diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, increased stress and sleep disorders have been found to be due to increased air pollution.
Walking, on the other hand, improves health, because each walk reduces air pollution.
So, do you want to take a walk today? Every step you take contributes to improving your local community.