Our Northwest

5 phases of becoming a Seattle pedestrian

Wednesday, August 10, 2016by  Sharlyn Petit

woman walking Seattle streetsIt’s amazing how the past decade (OK, two decades) has transformed me from the teen who couldn’t get her wheels of freedom soon enough, to the I-never-want-to-drive-ever-ever-ever lady.

Seriously, the hermit life’s for me.

I’ve exchanged my childhood country roads for the Mercer Mess and I-5 corridor. In the process, I’ve learned a thing or two about becoming a pedestrian in this growing, unpredictable, more-gray-than-emerald city of ours.

Here’s the rundown on five phases I’ve passed through to earning my pedestrian status, and a few reasons it has become my favorite mode of transportation.

  1. Surrounded by shoes. From where I’m sitting, I can count nine pairs of shoes, three sweaters, one blazer, and two umbrellas. How all these items make it to work and not back home is my new normal. But, I’m prepared for any last-minute quick changes or weather shifts, and the urban backpacker look is so chic, no?

  2. Drawing the battle lines. And when I say battle, there are multiple – for the right of way, for sidewalk space, for both directions of traffic on Dexter (plus bike lanes) to stop for you at the crosswalk at the same serendipitous time, for a well-timed sunbreak – the struggle is real.

  3. Who needs a non-sore body anyway? Between hilly neighborhoods, 40 daily flights of stairs, unfriendly tree roots busting through the pavement to twist my ankles, and carrying bags full of every glass lunch container I own, some part of my body is always in pain.

  4. See ya later, alligator! The satisfaction of knowing on some days I can walk to my destination faster than a hundred cars lined up downtown because there’s a game, or concert, or an overturned fish truck – that’s true bliss. I know that 25 minutes on foot is consistent, even on the days I’m practically rain-snorkeling to work.

  5. A daily grind that’s a little less grind-y. At some point in my transition, I started looking forward to my morning commute. The routine gave me the space (with coffee in hand) to mentally review my to-do list for the day, practice a presentation aloud, meditate, and even learn a new language via podcast (I recommend News in Slow French). Turning commute time into productive time = bonus!

While I haven’t ditched my car completely, I’m calling gassing up only three times this year a major win.

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