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7 WALK YOUR COMMUTE

This action focuses on walk commuting to reduce transportation energy.

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why?

As we are all aware, using more of our own body's energy is much more desireable than using the energy of fossli fuel resources which are both very polluting as well as being rapidly depleted.

While walking may not be the ideal solution for every trip, it is an excellent choice for trips of shorter distances. According to the Twin Cities Deparment of Transportation data, 28.7% of all trips in the metro area are 2 miles or less in length, making walking a good option for at least 30% of transportation.

Minneapolis is the 9th most walkable city in the US (www.walkscore.com). Over 92% of streets in Minneapolis have sidewalks on both sides, resulting in nearly 1,800 miles of sidewalks in the city. In addition, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) has announced that Minneapolis is designated as a Gold-level Walk Friendly Community (www.walkfriendly.org). A Walk Friendly Community is a city or town that has shown a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies. Communities can apply to the program to receive recognition in the form of a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum designation. PBIC cited Minneapolis' excellent planning policies, high level of staff commitment to pedestrian safety, and pedestrian campaigns and events as reasons for the Gold-level recognition. (minneapolismn.gov). To see a full report see here: minneapolismn.gov.

Enter your specific neighborhood or location in another city on walkscore.com to see how it rates and what areas are good for walking.

how to do this action:

KNOW THE ROUTES:

The first step to begining a walk-commuting lifestyle is to learn some routes and the estimated times it will take you. Use any of the following sites to map the distance and route of a potential trip:

  • Map My Walk

    This site will measure the distance of a potential trip. Another wesbite, www.walkscore.com, automatically maps these nearby destinations.
  • Walk Score

    This site allows you to enter your commute location and calculates the mileage, time to destination and cost per month if this distance was driven.
  • Google Maps

    A common but good resource for walk-commuters. Routes can be found for walking, biking, bus and driving as well as estimated time and distance.
  • Minneapolis Dept of Public Works

    For Minneapolis specifically, the Minneapolis Dept of Public Works has links to some common walking routes.
  • BikeWalk Twin Cities
    In addition, a citywide bicycle map which includes pedestrian trails and shortcuts can be found at the following links:
    Pan and Zoom Maps
    Printable PDF Maps
  • Minneapolis Parks
    Mileage chart for local parkway paths is located here.

OVERCOME THE BARRIERS:

According to the 2002 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors, one in five adults age 16 or older had not taken a trip by foot during a thirty-day period in the summer of 2002. The survey, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, reported that the number one reason for not walking is that respondents were either too busy or did not have the opportunity to walk (www.walkinginfo.org). Following are some common barriers to walking and some ideas for overcoming these obstacles:

  • PHYSICAL ABILITY:
    If you are out of shape or recovering from an injury or illness, walking may be difficult at first. However, walking is one of the easiest physical activities to do and will only become easier if you stick to it. Start by walking short distances at first and build up slowly as you become more comfortable.
    If you are not in the habit of walking regularly, you are one of millions. One-third of all Americans are putting their lives in serious danger because they live sedentary lifestyles. The number of deaths in 2000 caused by poor diet and physical inactivity increased by approximately 65,000, accounting for about 15.2 percent of the total number of deaths.1 The good news? There are ways to add physical activity to your daily life. A study by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research found that even small lifestyle changes—such as walking around a soccer field during a child's game, or walking around the airport during a layover—significantly improve cardio-respiratory fitness and blood pressure (http://www.cooperinst.org/index.cfm). Walking is one of the easiest activities to do because it allows you to accomplish several things at once and requires no special equipment. Incorporate walking in your daily schedule to get to work, walk your kids to school, to do errands, or to visit a friend. (walkinfo.org)
  • SAFETY:
    If personal security and safety are a concern in your neighborhood, consider some of these alternatives to help you keep walking. Try finding places and times to walk that are less threatening—take laps around your place of work during your lunch break, or walk around a mall or shopping center, where there are likely places for pedestrians and people to guard the public space. Find safety in numbers—walking with a group helps make you more visible to drivers and will provide a stronger deterrent to criminal activity. (walkinfo.org)
  • TIME/ATTENTION SPAN:
    While it may take 40 minutes to walk a 2 mile route versus 12 minutes in the car, it is important to note the difference in time. In this case, walking would add 28 minutes. Many people may be surprised by how quickly they can walk a certain distance. The average person walks at a rate of 3 mph or 20 minutes per mile, meaning most trips would be around half and hour. Walking allows an entirely new way to experience the city you live in. The slower pace allows you to connect to the happenings of your neighborhood and area in a way that you may have never experienced before. It is likely that you will find many new parks, shops, restaurants and public spaces that you never knew existed before. Another way to keep interested in walking is to vary your route, listen to music or walk with a friend or co-worker who lives near you.
  • WEATHER:
    Local climate and weather is one of the more difficult obstacles to overcome because it is out of our control. However, we do have control over how we prepare for it, which can make all the difference. Make sure you are dressing for the weather, and invest in a quality rainjacket, rain boots and appropraite cold weather wear. In an age of climate control and central air, people have been conditioned to expect the environment to remain comfortable at all times, which may mean walking in whatever weather is thrown at you each day may be a significant adjustment. On the upside, walking allows an opportunity to connect with the local climate and weather each day in a way which most people miss out on moving from house to car to work to car to house each day. Getting a dose of the natural environment can be invigorating and rejuvinating for many people.
KNOW THE RULES:

In a perfect world, pedestrians would not have to worry about the dangers of walk-commuting. However, with the majority of pedestiran related injury and deaths a result of car accidents, pedestrians need to take steps to insure their safety. Review the law for pedestrians here:

  • Definition of a pedestrian: "Pedestrian" means any person afoot or in a wheelchair. MN Statute 169.01 Subd. 24.
    Most laws about pedestrian traffic, rights and responsibilities are found in MN Statutes 169.06, 169.202, 169.21, 169.212, 169.215, 169.2151, 169.222, 169.305, and 169.31.
    Key Tips: (from minneapolismn.gov)
  • -Before crossing a street, scan in all directions. Look left, right, and then left again. Also check for vehicles which may be entering the roadway from a nearby intersection or driveway.

  • -Cross streets at marked or unmarked crosswalks. Marked crosswalks have pavement markings, pedestrian warning signs, and/or flashing lights. An unmarked crosswalk occurs at any intersection where crosswalks are not marked. If you choose to cross mid-block, you must yield to vehicles (unless the crossing is marked). Mid-block crossings are illegal if there are traffic signals at both ends of the block.

  • Do not enter the crosswalk if approaching vehicles cannot stop. While Minnesota's Pedestrian law says that motorists must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, it also says that pedestrians may not enter a crosswalk if it is impossible for a driver to stop. The word "crosswalk" applies to both marked and unmarked areas where pedestrians can gain the right-of-way.

  • -When ready to cross a street, make eye contact with vehicle drivers, and keep your eyes and ears on vehicle speed and noise. Always be prepared for a motorist who fails to yield the right-of-way. The law does not require motorists to stop for a pedestrian waiting to enter a crosswalk. If a motorist does stop, proceed cautiously to determine if other approaching vehicles are following suit. As an alternative, you can wave a stopped motorist on, if you are uncomfortable crossing while motorists are present.

  • -Obey "Walk/Don't Walk" signals. Minnesota Signal law says that a pedestrian may only enter a signalized intersection when the "Walk" signal is shown. They may not enter a crosswalk with a flashing or steady "Don't Walk" signal.

  • -Look carefully for vehicles emerging from alleys and driveways. While it is illegal for motorists to emerge without stopping before the sidewalk, always be prepared for a vehicle which does not stop.
  • Other Tips:
  • -Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, and other obstacles before crossing a street, so drivers can see you.

  • -Cross in well lit areas at night, or wear brightly colored clothing or reflective materials. Carrying a flashlight at night can also make you more visible to drivers.

  • -Watch out for vehicles which are backing up in parking lots, driveways, or on the street. Look for backup lights and listen for vehicle noise.

  • -Don't walk after consuming alcohol or other drugs. Drunk walking increases your chances of being struck.

  • -Keep distractions to a minimum – do not use cell phones or headphones when you are crossing a street.

  • -Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk on either side of the street, or if the sidewalk is inaccessible, walk facing vehicles.

  • -Proceed carefully when crossing, never run into the street.

KEEP UPDATED:

It is important to keep up to date on new infrastructure projects, important detours, public meetings and volunteer opportunities as a walk commuter. If you are in Minneapolis, subscribe to Pedestrian email updates here.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: What percentage of transportation energy can be saved when commuting by walking?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of commuting to work by walking affect happiness, convenience, health, and cost?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (T7_BASELINE) to track the mileage you currently commute by each mode (bike, walking, car, bus...) daily.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (T7_BASELINE) as it relates to your current daily commute habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Use the corresponding spreadsheet (T7_QUANTITATIVE) to track the miles traveled by walking in your commute each day.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria, every IMPLEMENTATION day on the spreadsheet (T7_QUALITATIVE) Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences changing this action in your life. Did you find your experience commuting by walking to be positive or negative? Why? What were some of the benefits? What were some of the struggles? How did this change your daily commuting experience?


resources

MINNEAPOLIS RESOURCES: NATIONAL RESOURCES:
ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

T7_Walk Your Commute Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

T7_BASELINE
T7_QUANTITATIVE
T7_QUALITATIVE