Thursday, May 16, 2019

Walking Seattle: The City at 3 Miles an Hour

Sometimes accidents can turn out to be happy accidents. 

Last  week my car keys inadvertently traveled over the mountains in a friend's car while I (and my locked car) remained in Seattle. He wasn't going to be back for several days, and my spare key fob went missing a while ago.

Since the City of Seattle is actively trying to make residents drive less, I was a model citizen for a few days. Between the bus, walking, and bicycling, I also got more exercise than normal. It felt great.

Okay, so I did snag a few rides from friends, but not much. I like to go as many days as possible without getting in my car and driving. But this wasn't planned.

What struck me while walking were the details that drivers usually blow past, like the dog that really wanted to crawl out from under the fence I passed but didn't quite fit. Or little sidewalk "libraries," where people add and take books for free.

I passed sweet dragonflies painted on a mailbox.

On Sunday morning I took the bus 3 miles downhill to the Ballard Farmer's Market, with a plan to bus back up to Crown Hill where I live. But when I started walking to catch the bus to go home, well, I didn't stop walking until I got home.  Later I estimated over 5 miles walking around my Northwest Seattle quadrant that day.

The next day there were two mile+ trips to Greenwood for tea and errands. I'm blessed to live around tree-lined streets with exuberant yard landscaping.  I was also fortunate to not have a busy schedule that day.

Tibet in Seattle; I spin the prayer wheels outside Sakya Monastery when I walk past.
When I passed the multi-story developments sprouting up like mushrooms in Ballard and creeping northward, it wasn't so pleasant because the developers basically scrape the lots bare and then add token sidewalk shrubbery. 

Single-family residential zoning is being chipped away in favor of more density in Seattle. This is changing the city's character and eliminating trees, yard landscaping, and gardens. But that's another discussion.

  I realize that to a lot of Millennials and transplants, being without a car is standard practice. But Seattle is still playing catch up with Portland to the south and Vancouver to the north on efficient transit options. And if you use Uber or Lyft, you're still driving around,  even if you're not behind the wheel.

Urban chickens on the next block.
When the days are longer, warmer, and drier, it's easier to walk more. But I'm energized to aim for more car-free days regardless of the weather. How about you?

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! 
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Suezy P said...

I love to walk the city and imagined myself walking with you, here and there. I loved all the photos you are sharing in this blog, for the simplest thing, like two dragonflies on a mailbox, or the pup that wanted out...bring joy. And oh, if anyone should ever ask...what's so special about Seattle? I'd have to say all the beautiful landscaped yards...I mean, if all it had in was a flowering rhodie, or any of the Japanese maples, it would be stunning, but we know people really pride themselves on their front yards and even parking strips get quite creative.

I used to walk from the top of hill at the Kent Renton border to the shores of Lake Washington, then loop around to the Boeing Ponds and back up the hill. I MISS walking like that. Since we do not have sidewalks and pull over lanes on our roads, walking like that is impossible here, until you actually get to downtown Huntsville...which is fun to walk, but there again, you have to drive there first.

Thanks for a fun walk...

jill said...

Thanks Suezy, always appreciate your fun and thoughtful comments. Wow sounds like a long walk you used to do. At least you get to downtown Huntsville now and then for a fun walk. I hope to join you there some time in the not too distant future for a walk!

BobK said...

Thanks for this Jill. I enjoy exploring neighborhoods on foot. We have whimsical neighbors who have little fairy gardens, hundreds of rubber ducks arranged in monthly themes, etc.

I also feel great when I realize my car has stayed in the garage for a couple of days.

jill said...

Bob, thanks for the comment. Sounds like a fun neighborhood with monthly themes. Here's to being car-free as much as possible!

Anonymous said...

Jill, we will have tea- life is crazy, love your ability to find joy and a nice blog post in having “someone” walk off with your car keys. A better woman than I. In Portland and down to the farm to mow and burn the huge pile assembled with a year’s pruning.

Lesley said...

Hi Jill,
Loved this story (as I do most of yours). Downside of my present location is that walking is a less great option than at my prior home. Not to say that I couldn't do it... but it would add SIGNIFICANTLY to my commute time. :)
Thanks for sharing the joy of life. Bill and I were in Boston last week and took a run through an old neighborhood. We love looking for these kinds of treasures while traveling on foot.