Most mornings, when weather and schedules permit, I start my day by walking. Walking in nature is one of my daily, personal rituals along with a healthy, plant-based smoothie for breakfast. I also keep walking in my schedule when I’m travelling. A brisk or slow morning walk is my time to take in a walking meditation and exercise, while walking when I’m on holiday lets me discover the new world around me. Walking is one the simplest and energy-efficient ways to transport yourself, too.
Yesterday, my morning walk was “up in the air” so to speak. The rain had been pelting down for a couple of hours prior with no sign of stopping. By 9am, the rain miraculously held back. I made a quick dash to make the most of the break, only to be drenched by the next downpour on the home-stretch. My drenching from the rain actually made me feel refreshed. I even felt like a kid again, without a care of getting soaked.
I also felt so relaxed during my walk, as I always do. I admired the local birdlife starting the day with daily rituals of their own – galahs pecking for grass seeds and magpies calling out to their babies learning to fly. Branches of eucalypt leaves bent their way over the pavement, glistening from their own drenching of raindrops. The view of The Dandenongs in the background, blanketed by a misty fog, was the most calming backdrop and I felt grateful. Grateful in the sense that I’m lucky to live in such a nature-filled suburb in Melbourne’s east where nature really is within easy reach. I also wondered how my suburb actually faired in the walkability stakes.
Could it be possible that my suburb had a decent walk score?
I discovered the Walk Score website not long ago. Their mission is to “promote walkable neighbourhoods” while attesting that we all should be able to “live where you love”. Walking is one of the simplest ways we can get out there and travel within our own surrounds, all while giving our health and environment a boost. You type in your neighbourhood and the website calculates your area’s walk score. Scores are out of 100 and are determined by factors such as transport, vicinity of shops and local facilities.
My suburb measured a walk score of 43 out of 100. What I also discovered was that my suburb is a car-dependent area. Conversely, there are at least three parks within walking distance from my house. While most of my errands like grocery shopping or going to see a doctor do require a car, I am in an easy walking distance from a post office, bakery, pharmacy, newsagency and organic shop. My house is only 48 minutes from Melbourne’s central business district which is handy for me when I want to explore new areas.
My area's walk score could be quite low due to its dependency on car transport. Though, that’s not to say I’m also within walking distances from public transport. There are bike tracks nearby and safe streets within where I can walk as far or as close to home as I like. There are accessible ways to explore my own community and I love how local travel is possible. Rather than focusing on the score’s ranking, I can also focus on how I can travel so easily and effortlessly through my own neighbourhood.
This is why I like to think that my daily walking is one of the reasons why I live where I love.
Do you enjoy exploring your neighbourhood through walking? What do you love about the area you live in?