Traffic in Atlanta, Georgia during rush hour (via Wikimedia)Enlarge Photo
The American author Bill Bryson one wrote that "the fact is that [Britain] is still the best place in the world for most things...to go for a walk...or stand on a hillside and take in a view."
Sadly, it seems fewer and fewer Britons are doing so these days--with a new report suggesting that one in five never ventures more than a third of a mile from their cars.
According to The Independent, a new survey by the National Trust--Britain's equivalent of the U.S. National Parks Service--suggest people in the country are walking less than ever. While promoted as a green, healthy way of getting around, over a quarter admitted in the survey that they have "resorted to their car or public transport to complete a walk". A full 22 percent have abandoned a walk half-way through and turned around.
Equivalent figures for the U.S. aren't forthcoming, but in a country known for its attachment to cars, the numbers are unlikely to differ too significantly. Not that they aren't going in the right direction, unlike our British counterparts--not only are Americans driving less, but statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that from 2005-2010, the proportion of U.S. adults who reported actively walking--more than ten minutes over the last 7 days--increased by over 6 percent.
Ten minutes in a week isn't a lot, admittedly--and it probably still equates to the UK's figure of no more than five miles per month, for many.
The most damning figure from the National Trust's survey is that nearly a fifth of adults never venture more than 500 meters--under a third of a mile--from their cars. People are literally tied to their vehicles. While manufacturers make improvements to increase the fuel efficiency of cars and reduce their impact on the environment, it's clear that changing our reliance on them for short journeys--or even when on vacation in a beauty spot--is equally important.
It isn't easy to walk everywhere of course, nor even cycle--but next time you're at one of the country's beautiful national parks and you're thinking of driving from one viewing area to the next, why not walk instead? You'll save gas, get some exercise and may even feel better as a result.