It’s a new year, there’s snow on the ground… and I’m living in Boston. If I develop any bad driving habits now, I have an excuse. I moved here last month, in a very rapid time frame, and am starting to explore the city. So this is a good time to blog about walking.

Back in the 20th century, I lived 10 miles from my high school and had to get there by horse-drawn carriage. Oh, sorry… that’s the wrong story line. Actually, I lived about 13 blocks from my school – which was half a mile from my martial arts class – and walked two to four miles a day.

I have a goal of walking more again, now that I’m in a larger city. Boston has at least one organization devoted to walking. Meetup.com lists 67 walking groups in this area. The Museum of Science offers a self-guided walking tour of green buildings.

A few months ago, a friend pointed me to Urban Ranger, a site that encourages people to explore – wherever they live – by walking. Prevention.com is one source for local walking routes. Google has also started including walking directions (although they’re still in beta).

Overall, the United States isn’t the most friendly place for walking. If you are living near a freeway, and that road is the main way you get to work, you probably aren’t going to walk along the margin of the road to get there – even if you only work a mile away from home.

One thing I’ve learned from marketing workshops is that people like their lives to be easy and convenient. We all use shortcuts when we make decisions. If walking becomes an easier choice to make than the alternatives – for example, the default choice for a Google Map – more people will choose it.

Although driving can be fun, walking can reduce stress and improve one’s health. Sitting in traffic can have the opposite effect. So, while I love my car, it’s staying in its parking spot now. The direct experience of walking – or biking – is much more interesting than viewing a new city from behind a windshield.