Funny how you can change over time.
Just three shorts years ago, we lived in the states. And I remember that whenever I saw people walking from the grocery store, I typically thought one of two things. Either they were poor and could not afford a car, or their car must have broken down. Either way, I looked at them with pity.
Pity for me. Pretty narrow-minded, in all honesty.
Now let’s fast forward a few years. We moved to Norway, and for the first six months, we didn’t have a car. So walking became normal. We walked to get groceries. We walked or biked to visit friends. We used public transportation. We learned not to let a little rain or ice or snow bother us.
And then we got a car. But by that time we had learned that we liked this life of not being so dependent on four wheels. And we learned that it’s a pretty common practice among many Europeans to walk or bike or take public. Even if you do have a car.
Now there is a big difference I must mention. Where we live now, there are sidewalks almost everywhere. And lots of cross-walks to get to the other side. And for the most part, aside from the occasional and quite rare aggressive driver, we live in a pedestrian-friendly society. Cars are typically quick to slow or stop when a pedestrian or biker nears an intersection. It really is nice.
Yeah, that’s a big difference between here and the American suburbs. You might live a short distance from shopping. But typically, there is no safe way to walk or bike there. Roads usually do not have sidewalks, and rarely have even a shoulder wide enough for walking. In most cases, it’s just not an option.
It is quite normal for us to walk several miles a day. Something we rarely did a few years ago. But it is a great way to get in some exercise, and a great way to get to know our city better. It’s much easier to connect with those around you face-to-face versus looking through a car window!