Book Review: Why I Walk; Taking a Step in the Right Direction by Kevin Klinkenberg 2014.
Why I Walk is a recent book by Kevin Klinkenberg. Kevin is an urbanist, architect and planner who has been helping to create vibrant walkable places. In his book, Kevin compares walking as a primary lifestyle to choosing to live a more automobile oriented lifestyle. This is a great approach as the idea of choosing to live in a walkable environment is still foreign to some people.
Kevin thoughtfully explains the many reasons for choosing a walkable lifestyle: Financial, Freedom, Health and Social. These show how freeing yourself from the daily need of a car can improve your lifestyle in ways you may not have expected. People are so used to sitting in heavy traffic for 60 minutes each day that they forget that they have a choice and that there are alternatives. What if you walked 7500 steps a day just going to work? Your body would be in much better shape even before you hit the gym after work. What if you put a car payment into a great house in a great neighborhood and rode a bike to work?
Kevin helps the reader to imagine things differently from the old school, post World War 2 suburban dream, which has grown into something more resembling a nightmare in many places. The millennial generation is the first to see a decline in automobile ownership. They are choosing instead to live in walkable urban places. And it's not just the young who prefer this approach. One of the hottest trends in senior care is creating or integrating with walkable urban neighborhoods for new projects. Seniors generally cite freedom and social engagement as the leading characteristics that appeal to them in urban projects, just as Kevin describes.
The overall tone of the book is one of a humanistic explanation of why you would want to walk and how that will affect your life. Kevin relies on both facts and figures and creative anecdotes from his own life and fairly addresses the challenges of walking (like rain!).
Having just made the choice last year to relocate our office and myself into the core of historic Savannah, I can relate on a personal level to Kevin’s book. Why I Walk is spot on in showing how a predominantly walking lifestyle can change the very nature of your life for the better. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially to people who are designing or planning walkable communities, but who do not adopt that lifestyle and experience the benefits themselves. Why I Walk is a great addition to everyone’s library. Also, check out Kevin’s website and blog, which is full of good stuff, at www.kevinklinkenberg.com