Guest Column: Walking Made Me A Better Driver

Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 9.55.45 AMDepartment of State Health Services Manager Greg Beets shares his thoughts on walking, and how being a pedestrian for a few minutes each day has made him see roads in a different light.

A few years ago, I started taking walks during the day to clear my mind and get some exercise. It didn’t take me long to notice that a pedestrian experiences a very different streetscape than drivers do, even when we’re sharing the same roadway.

Once drivers get into their cars, there’s a barrier beyond the metal and glass shell of the car that seems to separate them from the walkers, bikers, and other vehicles around them. It’s too easy to forget that the road isn’t there just for you. And even good drivers can slip into this mindset easily, not to mention all the bad habits that drivers also engage in from time to time, like texting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-car: I do use a car for my short commute to and from work. But now that I’ve seen what the road is like from a pedestrian’s-eye view, my driving habits have changed. I’ve slowed down. I pay close attention to crosswalks. I keep an eye on the bike lanes, and make sure to leave space between my car and cyclists. More generally, I don’t see the road as “mine.”

Walking has helped me lose weight and relax, but it’s also made me a safer driver.

It’s not hard to do what Greg has done, and incorporate a little walking or biking into your day! Try taking a walk during lunch, or taking transit once or twice a week. We can help get you started. You’re guaranteed to see the city in a new way, and it may be an experience that reshapes your relationship with your car!

image via City of Austin

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