Monday, January 12, 2009

NYC- a walking lifestyle

Those of you who don't live in NY may wonder what it's like to live here. Let's talk about one way that it is very different from, say, Montgomery, AL (the last place I lived), or Colorado Springs (lived there too), or Mobile, AL (yup lived there -during college), or Pensacola, FL (high school), or even Buffalo, NY (born there).

It takes getting used to.

The first thing most people have to get used to is not needing the car. We sold ours. You don't need it, and having it will only cost you tons on insurance and parking. The traffic is crazy- despite clearly marked lanes, no one stays in a lane for long, they rarely signal, and if you're not alert, you could easily get swipped. It's frankly a lot of hassle for little reward. When we need a car, we get one from Zipcar- a car sharing program that lets us pay per use without the paperwork of renting.

Basically, the city is designed for pedestrians. Each day to get to work, Loving husband and I walk. On the really wet days, or bitterly cold days, we can take the subway, but usually we walk because, heck, we like to spend time in each other's company. Loving huband goes to his building in Times Square, which is about a mile and then some from where we live, and I go to Park ave, which is about two miles from where we live. Like I said, we could take the subway, but let me tell you, those subway cars are packed tight in the morning. Tighter than sardines. You end up sharing your personal space with several strangers. I don't like being so crowded.

The walking has been great. Imagine - five days of the week we get miles of walking in. We don't walk slowly either. Like most NYers, we're walking at a good clip. We've both lost more weight doing this than we ever did in the Air Force with weekly PT. We still go to the gym, but if work keeps us from our eliptical routine, we worry less because we walk so much. On weekends we often go to Central park, which is probably a mile's walk just to get to, and then walk around there. Sometimes we go to the MET, and that's a good walk to get to as well. Walking is simply the best way to get around. Which brings me to today's NYC tourist hint:

If you're here as a tourist- you should treat the sidewalk like a street. It's much better not to stop suddenly in the middle, because there are people behind you. If you're going to stop, move to the side. If you're going to wander like you have no where to be and are in no hurry, also stay to the side. Most of us have somewhere to be and want to get there on time. When you stop or slow suddenly, you're 1) annoying people and 2) marking yourself as a tourist. During heavy tourist times, I find myself muttering curses at the slow walking, meadering tourists (more so when I was hurting if jostled or hurt if I had to stop or turn suddenly, now that my hip if all better, I'm merely annoyed, not angry or in pain from the stop and go tourist traffic).

I'm happy to take your picture or give directions, most NYers seem to be happy to help. But if you get in our way on the sidewalk, probably you'll get the cranky NYer most people expect. Not unlike the response you would get if you were driving under the speedlimit on a busy street in your home town.

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