« Net Estimates | Main | Which is Worse? »

July 05, 2007

Line of the Day: Americans Don't Like to Walk Edition

Bryan Caplan:

As far as I could tell, the city built millions of dollars of sidewalks for my personal use. I walked every day of the week at all hours of the day, and rarely saw another pedestrian.

July 5, 2007 | Permalink


Didn't you know, only private medicine can teach Americans to love walking?

Posted by: Meh | Jul 5, 2007 12:43:13 PM

Is someone working on a cure for economists who: a) generalize from their individual subjective experience to postulate universal truths and b) assume that the only measure of value is a specific idiosyncratic market's own subjective assessment of price?

Posted by: Cbetley | Jul 5, 2007 1:22:56 PM

Shortly Cbetley: Caplan ever been to NYC?

Posted by: Karl Steel | Jul 5, 2007 1:35:03 PM

Just because you like the feel of a warm fresh dick in your ass doesn't mean you should start making national policy decisions based thereon....

Posted by: TheManTheMyth | Jul 5, 2007 1:58:29 PM

Ezra, he's talking about Tyson's corner-- a place in which walking is extraordinarily inefficient, despite the presence of sidewalks. It's not that Americans don't like to walk (though some certainly don't), it's that they're generally good at making decisions regarding whether it's a good use of their time. In Chevy Chase and Clarendon, it is. In Tyson's Corner, not so much.

Posted by: Constantine | Jul 5, 2007 2:23:27 PM

I noticed that Norcross, GA -- Atlanta sprawl exurb -- has lots of paths and cycle tracks, and that they're designed entirely for the resident yuppies to use for exercise, rather than to get from one place to another. (No, of course MARTA doesn't go anwhere near it.) Contrariwise, it's often the near-burbs with the kind of people who actually do need to walk places that are least provided with paths.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 5, 2007 4:27:40 PM

How true. The rules for encouraging walking are that you need a wide sidewalk so you can walk with a friend, a barrier between the walker and the road, preferably trees AND parallel parked cars, visual interest away from the road, for example store windows, gardens, or front porches, blocks less than 1/100 of a square mile so that there are endless permutations of shortcuts, and for safety, pedestrian zebra striped or raised crossings with pedestrian refuges, and maybe clean air to boot. If these are met, and there is actually anything worth walking to within a half mile, plenty of people walk.

Posted by: Paula | Jul 5, 2007 4:31:42 PM

Americans don't like to walk? Well, I suppose that's true, but I would like to give a counter-example.

I live and work in San Jose, in the northernmost part of it, near the airport. It isn't really a proper neighborhood, but there is a fairly big apartment complex (maybe 1000 people) that I live in, and there are other complexes and condos nearby.

The nearest grocery store is a Safeway, about a mile down Montague Expressway. Despite the "neighborhood" being both residential and business oriented, there are no sidewalks between our complex and the grocery. At one point, the walking path goes over a bridge. There is no sidewalk here, so if a car swerved less than 5 feet to the right, there would be nothing to stop it from plowing into pedestrians.

And despite this, people will still walk or bike to the store. I'd rather live in a place where there are unused sidewalks than a place where people have to walk in the street.

Posted by: anonymous | Jul 5, 2007 8:24:42 PM

I like walking as much as -- probably more than -- the next fellow, and I live where I do because I like to be able to walk to businesses. But Tyson's Corner was planned differently. If it had been built from the start for pedestrians, it would be a very different place, and it seems to me that the VDOT is embarking on a foolish plan if they think they can change it.

Posted by: Tyrone Slothrop | Jul 6, 2007 11:35:07 AM

Have you ever tried walking in Virginia in July and August? They would find your dehydrated corpse less than a quarter mile from your starting point.

Posted by: Col Bat Guano | Jul 6, 2007 2:20:54 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.