Monday, October 15, 2007

Walking and Biking: Better For People and the Planet

Today is Blog Action Day and bloggers all over the world are posting things about the environment. I often write about big bike trips or bike safety or the latest bikey gadget I've found but today I'm going to talk about short trips. Trips less than 2 miles.

40% of US urban travel is two miles or less. Now I'm fond of saying that "any distance is biking distance" but not everybody goes out for 50 mile rides for fun or thinks 18 miles is just about the perfect distance for a bike commute. But two miles? Lots of folks can walk or bike two miles.

And the folks at Clif Bar are trying to get more folks to use their own power to go on those short trips. Their site here:

and the Walk Score folks here:

have tools that help you see what's within a short walk or bike ride of a given address.

Since Christine and I gave up our cars over 20 years ago, we've always been very conscious of the walkability of the places we've lived. We used to plot out circles on paper maps but these days the web puts that kind of info at your finger tips.

Some times we do big things that make a big difference. But often it's the little things we do, over and over, that make a big difference. Maybe one of those things can be using our own power to go to the market or the library or the post office. Small steps can make a big difference.


Anonymous said...


I completely agree with you, small steps can make big differences. I wish I had a job that allowed me to commute via bicycle ... but I work in an office and have to visit customers during the day. On the other hand ... I could easily bike to the library or grocery store. But like many in southeast Michigan, I choose the car option. I ride specifically for pleasure and exercise.

I marvel at your tenacity at bike commuting and sticking to your "no car" philosophy. Maybe I'll give the library a try soon ... they just repaved a local road and alas ... a marked bike lane ! Not many in these parts.


Chris ... Novi, MI

superfreak said...

kent what is the dividing line where you walk or bike. for me it is about 1 miles. if up to 1 mi i walk. if more than 1 mi i bike. i find that dealing with the bike, helmet, lock, ect is more trouble for <1 mi. for example i doubt anyone would ride to the store 1 block away. figure everyone would just walk it. me thinks even the cagers would walk that. thx superfreak

Kent Peterson said...

I also tend to walk if it's less than a mile. Actually on weekends Christine and I often walk a few miles kind of going from place to place, the library, the tea shop, the market, etc. If there are various stops along the way it is easier just being pedestrian than stopping to lock up a bike. But if I'm hauling a bunch of stuff then it's sometimes good to have the bike as a beast of burden. When I lived within a mile or so of work, I'd pretty much always walk the distance rather than bike.

Chris Abraham said...

Bikes are of course superior. So is walking. But it is America and I think we need to focus on limiting the amount of crap in the air for us bicyclists. Folks in China can't even breathe anymore the pollution is so bad.

Congress finally has a chance to pass meaningful energy legislation. The bill they are about to pass includes the best fuel economy standards ever (35 mpg by 2020) and a renewable electricity standard (15% by 2020) that guarantees the growth of renewable, clean energy. But there is a chance these two key advances won’t make it through to the final bill.

I am working with a coalition to make sure Congress sends the president a strong energy bill with meaningful changes for our environment and planet. This legislation would be a monumental step toward stopping global warming. Go to and sign the petition. This is our chance for real progress, don’t let Congress back down!

Dave Dederer said...


Great post! Liked it so much I linked to it on this blog:


Dave D. (stopped to say hi the other day when you had a flat on your Dahon at the west end of I-90)

Evan said...

Great post Kent. I regularly see people who live within 2 miles of their office driving there. Why? 2 miles, their cars probably arent even warm by the time they get there.