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Walking to Work: What I saw, thought, and learned

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by Eric Cavazos
December 12, 2021

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1.8% of people walk to work in San Antonio. Last week I made a commitment to join the exclusive walking to work group, if only for a day.

When confronted with the decision to make a change to my commute, I tend to give more thought to the potential dangers and uncertain scenarios: Is walking to work safe? What are the sidewalk conditions? What if there is an emergency and I need to get somewhere fast?

Thankfully since I’ve been logging my commutes in the Alamo Commutes App, I know I have access to four emergency ride homes throughout the year. Anyone in the Alamo Area can register for free and utilize this service. To learn more about the Emergency Ride Home Process, visit our previous blog about the program.

The Hidden Benefits of Walking

Besides being a healthy habit, walking slows down the pace of your day and allows you to take in your surroundings. In the book Happy City, which looks into how urban design impacts our happiness, the author talks about “nature deprivation.” Simply put, a lack of viewing grass, trees, shrubs, or anything green outdoors can make us less happy. Walking helps us surround ourselves with the natural environment and can lead us to feel better. What a nice way to start the day. Maybe this is part of the reason why 78% of people who visit Yanaguana Garden say they feel more relaxed after spending time there!

Why Walk

My walk to work took one hour. I walked alongside trees, broken fences, and colorful murals that fought against the grey morning sky. My commute carries me through the heart of downtown, past the river not once, but twice. Every time I pass by a historical landmark, I think about what life must have been like back then. I passed countless parking lots, large, cracked, and empty, and passed by trees whose leaves were beginning to fall. I walked by art, and architecture, and green grass. I saw the people of Centro preparing the city for tourists and residents alike. The streets were mostly quiet and empty, ultimately relaxing. I appreciated looking at our city from a different vantage point and hope to incorporate walking to work every now and then.

Safe Sidewalks: What to look for

If you’re thinking about walking to work, to lunch, or just to soak up all the outdoors has to offer, it often helps to familiarize yourself with the sidewalks you’ll be taking. One method can be using google maps to see the path you’ll take before you take it. Below are two pictures I took on my walk to and from work. Which one looks more safe and more enjoyable to walk on?

image example of a bad sidewalk versus a good sidewalk

Safe and enjoyable sidewalks are void of tripping hazards, they are ADA compliant, provide adequate lighting, facilitate safe connections to destinations, and often have trees or some type of green barrier that provides protection from both the sun and traffic. Please walk safely.

Don’t Walk Away

Although some of us may not put too much thought into sidewalks, the surrounding design and good upkeep of them can make us happier and safer. I encourage you to go for a walk and experience the sidewalks in your area. Do you find yourself comfortable and at peace? Or do you find yourself looking around and asking the question: How could this be better? What would it take for you to choose to commute to work by walking?