I love not having the worry of owning a car–between the expense and the maintenance chores, I found it stressful and I consider my car-free lifestyle to be about the best thing about my life in England. However, there was a bit of a gap in my knowledge base and now I think it has been fixed. Google’s maps have always been useful for road trip planning, but I just discovered that Google Maps has added a beta feature to track how many miles it is to WALK somewhere, or to help you map a route using public transport. Yeah! This gives me endless hours of fun. I don’t use the public transport option much, but the walking routes and mileages are excellent news for me. I now know that my daily commute to work is 0.8 miles, while when I first moved here it was over 2 miles each way (thus my weight gain since moving closer to work!) The distance from my new health club to home is just over a mile, the short walk from my office to today’s offsite meeting was about 0.3 miles while the long walk from home to the meeting I have tomorrow morning is 2.5 miles. If I don’t go home immediately but walk to the club from work, that’s 1.5 miles. The distance from work to the rail station is just under a mile, but from home to the rail station is 1.2 miles. Should I go on? I could do this for days. I have long felt that I did not have a good feel for distance in this town, like I was never sure exactly how far something was or how long it would take me to walk there. I know it may sound a bit daft to walk places more than two miles away for a meeting, but given the narrow roads, perpetual construction (“road works” in the local lingo) and general unpredictability of buses, I have discovered that for any reasonable distance I’m often better off walking. Now I can make a far more educated decision about when this option of hoofing it is actually reasonable.
Update: Ironically when I try to map public transport for either the home-to-gym or home-to-tomorrow’s-meeting routes, I get the suggestion to walk!