n=1: The Self-Experiment finds not all sidewalks are created equal

This month, n=1: The Self Experiment has pledged to take 10,000 steps a day. Read how she fared during the third week of her health journey.

sidewalkAnother week, another 70,000 steps. Wow, when I phrase it like that, it sounds like I really accomplished something!

I feel a lot better this week. Maybe I became accustomed to the routine of walking, but most likely I had mind-wiped the fact that last week the baby was teething and I woke up several times during the night, for several nights, to tend to him. Exhaustion is a funny thing that can make Swiss cheese out of your memory.

This week, I tried walking around different parts of the island — Makaha, Kailua, Downtown Honolulu, Pearl City, and my ‘hood, Nu’uanu. What I quickly realized is that some parts of the island are more conducive to walking than others. For example, where I live in Nu’uanu (and also in Pearl City), there are almost no sidewalks, and there are a plethora of hills.

On the West Side in general, walking isn’t the safest activity. Businesses seem far apart, and the highway is the main thoroughfare. And it’s crazy hot and sunny. If you wanted to go to, say, the post office and then get a smoothie before heading to the beach, you seem to have two choices: heat stroke or driving.

And yet, there are always so many pedestrians who brave it anyway, and earn my vote for Hard Core Award this week. On Makaha Valley Road, there are no streetlights (since it’s a private road), and I missed one night of walking because it gets reeeeally dark (yes, I realize it’s night time, but still). I didn’t want to get hit just because I startled some poor driver by appearing suddenly on the side of the road.

Conversely, Kailua and Downtown are very pedestrian-friendly places, especially Kailua. It’s flat there, there are clearly marked crosswalks where people actually stop, and it’s generally not too hot. Most importantly, the layout of Kailua town is such that you could park your car somewhere and walk to complete your errands. In both Kailua and Downtown, small businesses are grouped together over several blocks, and walk-in culture is encouraged. There are tons of people walking their dogs, athletes training for races of some sort, and hippies alternately riding skateboards or riding fixed-gear bikes (and if it’s a girl hippie, she’s wearing some sort of long, flowy skirt and a fedora).

Now, this blog isn’t about socio-economic conditions, but it is interesting to note how the layout of a place can contribute to the health of its residents and the health of its businesses. How do you think we can encourage safe walking opportunities in all communities across the island? Share your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter or Facebook.

On a final note for this week, someone asked me about cheating, because many non-GPS-based pedometers will register movement (jumping, shaking the pedometer, etc.) as steps. To this I say: If you want to sit and shake the pedometer 10,000 times a day to “trick” it, that seems like a lot more effort than just walking around.

MeredithEnosMeredith Desha Enos, Being808′s n=1: The Self Experiment blogger, is a Honolulu-based writer, mother, wife, and putterer. She enjoys gardening, aquaponics, and being active with her family. Meredith works in online education at Kamehameha Schools, and is into new and great ideas and adventures. You probably know her from somewhere, or she’s friends with your cousin.

One comment

  • I live in Kailua and our last child moved out. We love the house we are renting now because she could walk and ride her bike to school, paddling and Kailua Town. When we looked for a new place to rent in Enchanted Lakes we kept in mind the bike paths, and all paths leading to town. Its funny how this is now a priority when we find places to live….it wasn’t before on the mainland. There you worried about hourly commutes. I like worrying about walking and biking paths much more.

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