Sunday, August 21, 2005

Walking 101

Our local paper had some gas saving tips on Sunday.

Avoid quick and sudden stops.
Organize a car pool.
Maintain tire inflation pressures.
Consolidate errands with the daily commute.
Eliminate extra vehicle weight.
Use public transportation.
If you own more than one vehicle, use the most fuel efficient one.
Compare fuel economy labels when looking for a new vehicle.
Install a clean air filter.
Tune the engine.


Note that none of them recommend walking or bicycling. Perhaps the writer was simply unaware of these practices, so with that in mind, I’d like to offer a primer for those thinking about leaving the car behind. I call it “Walking 101”. With fuel prices increasing to heart-stopping levels, more and more people are looking for alternative forms of transportation. Some are discovering a novel, slightly subversive means to get from point A to point B.

Stand up. Now, look down. Those appendages at the end of your legs are called ‘feet’. Often, feet are encased in ‘shoes’, devices for your feet that are similar to tires on your car. These shoes come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, and the ‘soles’ are designed for different types of terrain. Soles perform the same function as the tread on your tires. For example, boots with deeply lugged soles are perfect for climbing mountains in a manly, outdoors manner, while crushing small animals underfoot. Just imagine one of those SUV ads showing a four-wheel drive vehicle scaling a pristine wilderness trail, and you’ll know what I mean. One big difference is that it’s not necessary to remove the occasional hiker from your boot soles.

People who use their leg-end appendages for locomotion are called ‘pedestrians’. By putting one foot in front of the other, they perform an act called “walking”. Walking can be surprising effective. In fact, through the simple act of walking, people have reached the top of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth’s surface! They have also reached both the North and South poles, all without the aid of an SUV or other motor vehicle. And as incredible as it may seem, men have even walked on the Moon!

You may notice that as you walk uphill, walk rapidly, or walk in hot weather, your skin develops a layer of moisture. This is called “sweat”. It is nothing to be alarmed about. It’s your body’s cooling system, like the radiator in your car. It does need fluid replenishment, but do not under any circumstances drink antifreeze thinking it will be superior to plain water. ‘Death’ is the result of drinking anti freeze. Be aware that your body does not come equipped with a check engine light. Ingesting antifreeze will set the heart to the ‘off’ position and it will not re-boot.

Walking very rapidly is called “running”. While it will allow you to reach your destination more quickly, running causes profuse sweating, rapid breathing, and an increased heart rate, similar to revving your engine. Experts are divided about the safety of running, particularly if you should decide to run 25 or 30 miles to work on your first attempt. Honestly, though, you can receive an award for this from someone named Darwin.

Interestingly, traffic lights can serve a dual function, both controlling motor vehicle traffic and permitting ‘pedestrians’ to cross safely, or not. They perform a sporting function as well, often being timed so that the light changes before the pedestrians are completely across the street, forcing them to ‘sprint’ ahead of a charging mass of motor vehicles. This is great fun for spectators in nearby coffee shops and restaurants, and it guarantees that emergency medical technicians will keep their jobs until retirement.

For your first ‘walk’ attempt, select a nearby destination, perhaps your mailbox. Open your front door and carefully place one foot in front of the other, directing them toward the mailbox. This can actually be performed without a map, heads-up-display, or GPS unit! Imagine the adventure! When you reach the mailbox, carefully turn your feet back in the original direction and walk back to the door. If you remembered to bring the mail along, give yourself some bonus points. Otherwise, repeat the adventure.

As you gain skill at walking, you’ll find you can travel further and further, all without a motor vehicle! Within a few weeks, you’ll be able to reach the mailbox or even a nearby house and you may not even feel tired. Keep at it! You’ll be the envy of your friends and neighbors, a pioneer on the cutting edge of a new transportation mode!

Next: Bicycling 101…when I get around to it!

2 Comments:

Blogger Fritz said...

You've hit the big time, Ed. Blue Collar" has linked to you :-)

12:03 PM  
Blogger hagus said...

Sarcastic post of the week award. I also get pissed off when people leave off motorcycling in these "gas saving tips" type articles. I cycle to work three times a week and ride a motorcycle the other two days.

For my 12km trip into the Sydney CBD, the time taken using various means is: motorcycle (15 mins), pushbike (25 mins), private vehicle (45 mins), bus (1+ hr).

Apparently, petrol will have to reach $5 per litre before people take "radical steps" like riding a motorcycle, a pushbike, or walking.

My theory is that 95% of abuse you cop when you're on two wheels is from people who are incensed that their brand new BMW 5 series or smart car is not getting them to work any quicker than a guy on a pushy.

Regards,

Luke (www.hagus.net)

8:54 PM  

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