#37: If you’re going less than a mile, walk or cycle. About half of car journeys are under two miles, yet these create more pollution than longer journeys as the engine isn’t warmed up yet.

Bless the hearts of the ones who wrote this one. You see their point: quit driving all the time and walk when you can to cut down on pollution. Walking is also good for the body and mind. The benefit/costs ratio of walking vs. driving depends a great deal on context. I live about a mile from a shopping district in which lies the grocery store, the bagel store, and the pizza parlor. There is also a Target and an AMC theatre. It may as well be on the moon. Phoenix isn’t designed for pedestrians. From May to September the temperatures hit highs well above 40C (over 100F). Walking saves gas and cuts down on air pollution but it risks one dropping from dehydration and heat exhaustion. A friend from Chicago once came for a visit. He lives downtown where there is no need for a car given the “L” and all things within walking distance. He thinks nothing of walking a mile so he walked to said mall a couple of times while he was in town. He told me during his strolls people in cars would stop to ask him if he was all right and even offer him a ride.

I live near by an elementary school and as far as I can tell no children walks to school but they are all dropped off and picked up by mothers in large vehicles. The heat is a factor, probably but I surmise there is an element of fear that their child will be abducted, picked up by illegal aliens or drag queens or other evil beings. Perhaps there is peer pressure too. A mother who lets her children walk to school will be judged as negligent so she drives the kiddies three blocks out of vanity what will the neighbors think.*

People do the most convenient thing that is in front of them. If the stairs are ‘right there’ they will be used rather than the lift. If it is easier to drive than walk people will drive.. I would gladly take the bus and the train if they weren’t so far away and inconvenient to use.**

I don’t see myself walking to the mall particularly as I am going there to shop for groceries and that’s not easy to lug home. I try to keep my outings by vehicle to a minimum and ‘bundled’ into several stops. I may feel different if and when I get an electric car, then I won’t feel as guilty for driving a mile. Maybe no doubt the 100 ways editors will find something faulty about that in time.

Do you live somewhere where walking is feasible or are you obliged to motor everywhere?

*I once heard of a mother getting to trouble for allowing her daughter to walk to school. The police picked the kid up and the mother reported to DCFS. I don’t remember if she was imprisoned.

**The nearest Amtrak station is 2-3 hours away in Flagstaff, and it is notoriously not on time. By the time I get to the train and board it etc. I could have gotten to my destination in less time – and I have a car too.