This morning as my bus crossed Mass Ave Bridge, I was heartened to see so many people walking and biking.  I usually listen to NPR on my iPod radio or read Newsweek during my commute, but I always look up as we cross the Charles River and take in the view of my adopted city through the windows of the No. 1 bus.

Boston is vastly different from my Midwestern hometown in many ways, but one of the reasons I chose to move to Boston was so I could live in a place where I do not have to drive or own a car.  Walking is my favorite mode of transportation, and spring weather reminds me how much I love using my feet to get from Point A to Point B.

In Minnesota I drove everywhere, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the world’s best driver!  However, every friend in Minnesota has a driveway or free street parking, all stores have parking lots, and many businesses even have drive-through windows so you don’t even have to get out of your car at all to order coffee, do your banking, pick up dry-cleaning, or return DVDs.  One summer when I was in a car accident that crunched my little red Chevy, I was determined to bike or walk everywhere while my car was repaired.  This goal proved nearly impossible in a city built for driving.  And it was kind of ridiculous that I spent an hour walking to teach an aerobics class and then an hour walking all the way back because I had to go very much out of my way to avoid the highway overpass standing between the gym and my apartment.

I hope I never take for granted the walk-ability of Boston.  My favorite restaurants are all within a 20-minute walk from my apartment, I can speed-walk to the Back Bay Healthworks in 10 minutes and, if I want to see whether there are any Boston Ballet tickets for the Sunday afternoon performance, I can walk to the Opera House, too.  I have had to transition my shoe collection from stilettos and fiercely-pointed toes over to flats and rounder wedges for safety reasons but, when the sun comes out and it’s warm enough for flip-flops and tank tops, it thrills me to see how many Bostonians do the city walk.  Of course, this morning I watched them from my bus seat, but I know that if I want to walk to work in the morning, I can.  It takes an hour, and it’s hard to do on the days I carry a gym bag (which is pretty much every day).  But I’m in great company when I commute to work on foot.  Walking will always be better than my rural commute on a two-lane highway, going 20 mph, stuck behind a John Deere tractor.

So tie on those sneakers and walk to your next destination.  Just watch out for the cobblestones!

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