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Walking makes us happy

Chris Bruntlett writes about some of the simple joys of living in a walkable neighborhood in Vancouver:

Perhaps most significantly, living smaller and closer has lead to a tremendous simplification of our lives, where our day-to-day existence is marked with very little stress or complication. Less time wasted commuting long distances (and also less time working to pay for it) ultimately means we can spend more time connecting and contributing to our community. It affords me time to devote to the world of bicycle promotion, through writing, photography, speaking and filmmaking. And it allows my wife to blog about our adventures, inspiring a global audience with stories of our car-free life.

Best of all, this shift has lead to plenty of quality time spent together as a family. We sit down for dinner almost every single night of the week. Walking, cycling, or riding the bus provides ample opportunity to hold hands, make eye contact, and chat about any number of issues, big or small. Having few debts or extraneous expenses allows us to put our money towards more worthwhile experiences: the aforementioned Christmas vacation, for example, or an afternoon at BC Place cheering on the Whitecaps.

Those of us in the planning/design world simply don't talk about these human qualities enough. We'll write endless books about the environmental virtues of city living or the details of how to design a bike lane, but very little about the joys of it. The late, great Ray Bradbury wrote about such things very well - his little book of short stories called Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Future has a number of odes to city life. Here's a brief one:

In Paris, with miserable weather, in thousands of outdoor drinking and eating places, the generations gather to talk and stare… which is what life is all about. Gathering and staring is one of the great pastimes in the countries of the world.

And, a shameless plug for Why I Walk, my book, which also gets into some of the same subject matter.

Hat tip to Gordon Price for the piece.

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