At the beginning of the summer, when I had officially left my horrendous, cross-lake commute behind, I made a goal of  reducing my car trips. I decided to walk anywhere within 1 mile of my house, and bus when it was appropriate. All summer, I was pretty good about accomplishing this goal. I walked about six blocks to catch a bus to work. I walked to the grocery store, only cheating when I needed to buy things like cat litter (that stuff is heavy!).

Now that fall weather is arriving, I’m not finding it too hard to stick with these habits. I bus to my new job, and walk to the grocery store – making sure my raincoat is stashed in my backpack. Fall weather here in the Pacific Northwest is notoriously rainy, but as long as you’re prepared, it’s not that bad. I will most likely be buying some rain pants to wear during those longer walks, but other than that – a little rain never hurt anyone (except the Wicked Witch, I suppose.)

What’s the benefit of this pledge I’ve taken?

Monetary – I spend about $5 for round-trip bus fare. More if I ride during “peak” hours. Taking the bus 5 days a week adds up to $100 a month. When I was driving to work every day, I spent at least $120 a month on gas. I’m not paying for parking, which could save me a bundle, but I’ve luckily never had to pay for parking. That’s a savings of $20 a month. If I totally got rid of my car, I could cut out my car payment and car insurance, which would drastically reduce my monthly expenses. I’m not there yet, though.

Health – Walking is good for you. This may sound obvious, but I thought I should mention it. Walking is gentle on your joints, reduces your risk of a vast assortment of diseases, and just feels good. I’ve lost weight and feel great.

Carbon reduction – According to, my old commute of approximately 640 miles per month created between 2-4 tons of carbon annually. To “offset” that carbon output, I would have to plant a tree a month. Instead, I walk and ride the bus.

Community – I’ve met neighbors, discovered parks, and gotten to explore my neighborhood by walking. I’ve also seen some excellent urban gardens in front yards and parking strips.Walking allows you to really see your surroundings, instead of being focused on the road ahead.

I challenge you to try it – take a walk tomorrow. Can you walk to the store? Try it out. Maybe you’ll discover something new.