Commuting on foot is easy on the wallet — and state of mind. Meet a couple of Seattlelites who live a hop, skip and a jump — or a quick walk — from work.
Anyone who gets to work in Seattle traffic knows that the commute itself can be one of the worst parts of the job. But if you ask people who commute on foot, you may hear something different.
And it’s not just the commute itself, but how you feel once you get to the job.
“It’s a great transition into work mode,” says Joseph Bellanca, of Seattle, who began walking to work every day since moving to Belltown a few months ago. The seven-block walk helps him think about the day ahead, and also gives him the opportunity to practice what he preaches as an employee of Commute Seattle, a nonprofit commuter-service organization that aims to ensure the efficient flow of people and goods through downtown Seattle.
Bellanca chose to live in Belltown so he could simplify his commute and cut down on costs by not having a car. As a benefit, he realized he had a stress-free, predictable trip.
The only thing you have to worry about when walking is wearing a good pair of shoes and bright colors, especially if it’s raining, says Bellanca. He wears a white jacket so cars can see him.
In Seattle, nearly 7 percent of daily commuters are walkers. According to a 2014 study published by Commute Seattle, walking is one of the fastest-growing commuting methods, with a 10 percent increase since 2012.
Besides being free, commuting on foot leaves a smaller, well, footprint on the environment than driving or public transportation.
Lisa Quinn recently began walking to work, inspired by the work she has been doing to launch Washington Walks to Work, a program that began several months ago with Feet First, in partnership with the City of Seattle, to get employees walking to — and at — work.
“I noticed that even after one week of walking to work, I felt really focused when I got to work, even more than when riding a bike,” says Quinn, executive director of Feet First, a nonprofit organization that promotes walkable communities.
If you can’t walk to or from work, try holding a “walking” meeting, suggests Quinn. A tricky work problem can look a lot less intimidating when you aren’t sitting in a stuffy office under florescent lighting, she says. And the change of scenery can inspire creative ideas.
And if you live too far from your job to complete an entire commute on foot — usually more than 3 miles — make your fitness-tracking app happy by jumping off the bus a few stops early and walking the rest of the way.
Quinn says the benefits of a walking commute mean getting a break in an otherwise hectic day — and the result can become almost meditative. “You get to take that time to slow down,” she says.
Quinn’s positive experience is confirmed by the results of a recent study out of the United Kingdom that found those who switched from a car commute to walking had a greater sense of well-being. The study looked at a sample size of nearly 18,000 commuters during a period of 18 years and found that the longer the commute, the happier people became who had an active commute, such as walking or biking.
The study found that the active commuters not only had a greater sense of well-being, but were better able to concentrate once at work and had decreased feelings of being under strain, according to results published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“You notice more at 3 miles per hour than 30,” says Quinn, “And the benefits of going slower can be very positive.”
Tips for walking commuters
Street selection: You don’t have to walk along the busiest street. Pick a more scenic or serene route or vary your route to keep it interesting. Use thewalking map of Seattle,which marks walk times, steep hills, busy arterials and quiet neighborhood streets.
Don’t text while walking.
Stay on time. Know some shortcuts and the public transit routes along the way in case you are running late.
Keep extra shoes and socks at work. You’ll be glad you did when you get caught in bad weather.
Sources: Feet First, Commute Seattle