Posts tagged ‘Wallingford’

Big City Pioneers Are: Walkers, Riders, and Bikers.

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.


City Gardens

You’ve seen the pictures of the Little Apartment in the Big City garden – a collection of drawers, pots, and whatever other containers I could find to fill with soil. (My neighbors are actually horrified by my use of an old cat litter box. I don’t get it.) Walking to the Little Apartment from the bus last night, I enjoyed seeing all the wonderful ways people in my neighborhood have incorporated edible food in their limited garden space.

Prior to 2009, the City of Seattle required a permit for anyone wanting to change up their parking strip – you know, that little strip of land between the sidewalk and the street, that you hate to mow, and just feels like wasted space. Planting anything other than grass required fees, and not small fees! Up to $225 if you were including hardscaping (stepping stones, etc), according to the Seattle Times. Thankfully, in 2009, the Seattle Department of Transportation changed their rules, and permits to plant in parking strips are no longer required.

Which gets me back to my lovely walk home last night.

In the two short blocks between my bus stop and my house, there were at least six full-on parking strip gardens. Lettuce, radishes, spinach, and herbs growing in a once-forlorn strip of land. Intermingled with the ornamental grasses and flowers, an artichoke plant peeks its head above ground. Tomato plants grow amongst the irises, and snap peas vine up fences. On the block where the Little Apartment is, the parking strips were paved over at some time in the past. However, my neighbors are intrepid folk. Across the street, beautiful raised beds have been built, and in them a cast array of vegetables are growing. Down the block, cedar barrels are planted with tomatoes and peppers.

As an apartment dweller, I am always jealous of homeowners with big plots of land to plant on. However, I love all the creative ways we big-city dwellers are discovering to grow our own healthy, fresh food, in the limited space that we have.

Want to learn more?

To read more about parking-strip gardening in Seattle, check out this article from The Seattle Times: Vegetable gardens crop up in Seattle parking strips

Seattle Tilth has offered classes on Parking Strip Gardening in the past, and are in general a great resource for city gardening.

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