Top 5 Reasons People Don’t Walk to Work

Do you like to walk?

I know many people who enjoy walking. And I can appreciate that a walking commute in Toronto in February is no walk in the park.

Walker at Tip of Point Pelee National Park

A Walk in the Park (R. Kelk)


A Walk in Toronto in February (R. Kelk)

You know where I stand: enthusiastically in favour of walking to work. But why do so many people shy away from commuting by foot? There are many reasons. Based on my own informal survey, here are the top five reasons, in no particular order, why folks aren’t sold on self-powered transportation to the workplace. I’ve added some of my thoughts on each objection.

1. It’s too far/takes too long/don’t have time

Before I started walking to work, I also thought it would take me too long. I started doing it as a short-term experiment. How far do I commute? According to Google maps, 4.4 km or an estimated 57 minutes by foot. If I compare this to taking public transit, my ride on the subway is a paltry 15 minutes. That makes me think, wow, I am quadrupling my commute time by walking. But if I add in the time getting to and from the subway station on either end, my commute by TTC is roughly 30 minutes.

I originally thought that a one hour commute was too long. But after I tried it, I decided to look at it another way. See if this works for you!

  • It’s only “costing” me 30 minutes of my time to add a full hour of walking to my day. It’s a bargain!

2. Worried about appearance or BO

Concerns about your appearance or body odour after walking to work can seem like a deal breaker. With a bit of ingenuity and preparation you can enter your workplace calm, cool and presentable.

  • Use anti-perspirant.
  • Dress as lightly as possible to walk to work, even in winter. Look for fabrics that are wrinkle-resistant. Keep a sweater or jacket and dress shoes either at the office or carry them in a backpack.
  • Reserve some time to cool down before you arrive. Stop by the washroom to fix your hair and/or towel off a bit before you’re on duty.

3. Too much effort/lazy

I’ve heard that moving more actually gives you more energy. There’s only one way to find out!

  • Put one foot in front of the other; repeat until you arrive at your destination.
  • Trust that after about ten minutes, the rhythm of your walking will carry you forward without much exertion on your part. You don’t need to push yourself – it’s not a race.
  • Listen to some upbeat music on your way. This works for lots of people at the gym!

4. Concerned about injury

If you are a dedicated couch potato, you may have a valid concern. You are well advised to check in with your doctor if you start any new exercise regimen.

  • To avoid injuries from cars and bikes, use intersections or pedestrian crossings to cross, don’t jaywalk, and always look to your left, centre and right before stepping out into the street. Keep to the edge of the sidewalk that’s away from the road, even when waiting to cross.
  • Hip and knee joints may wear out anyway! And your heart and lungs will thank you for walking.
  • Sunscreen and hats protect your skin from harmful UV rays

5. Dangerous conditions

Some Toronto neighbourhoods are creepy. Sometimes there are obstacles on the sidewalks. For maximum safety, be aware of your surroundings as you move through the city.

  • At night, walk along well-lit and busier roads and wear bright colours.
  • Wait for a gap in traffic if sidewalk construction or other hindrances force you to walk on the road for a bit.
  • A fresh ice storm really isn’t safe to walk – unless you wear ice grippers – don’t be foolish!
  • Stay away from downed power lines and anything that they touch.

Now, if you’re like me, you want to know what other people think.

If you’re a walker and have tips, please share in the comments section!

And if you’re not a walker, why not? Please take this  poll – inquiring minds want to know!

Tweet: Top 5 Reasons People Don't Walk to Work! Take the Poll #thewalkingcommuter


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