I love to walk to places. I love to walk my daughter to school. I love to walk to the grocery store, to the library, the park, the coffee shop, and any place within a mile or so of my house. I'm blessed to live in a great area with plenty of places within walking distance. I also live in a warm climate where I can walk the whole year long. It is one of the things that I look forward to once I've quit my job. I'll have more time and flexibility in my schedule to substitute walking for a lot of the short car trips that I make.
This morning, I walked the mile from my daughter's school to our new house. It was a pleasant walk with only gentle slopes unlike the ski slope that I walk down from my current house. I pushed my littlest in the stroller and talked to her and just greatly enjoyed the fresh brisk morning air. We then walked over to the grocery store to pick up some odds and ends for tomorrow since my family is coming for the day to help me pack. Then, we walked the mile or more back to my current house. It took just over an hour. I got some good exercise, my daughter got some fresh air, and I ran an errand. It's good for my health, good for the pocketbook (no gas or wear and tear), and good for the environment (no carbon emissions). It's a win-win situation.
It does strike me as odd that so many people choose to drive to make those short trips. I know several people who live within a short distance of my daughter's school who make those 1/4-1/2 mile trips with a car instead of walking. According to U.S. Department of Energy, short trips from a cold start uses as much as twice the fuel as a multi-purpose trip with a warm engine. This means that these short trips are expensive and bad for the environment. Whether or not you care about being a good steward of the earth, it is just bad economic sense to get in the car to drive 1/2 mile when you have a pair of good working legs or a bicycle.
This may not apply to everyone. There are many people who do not live within walking distance of stores and civic places. However, I hope that like me there are people who make the conscious choice to live within close proximity of these places. I've always lived within walking distance of a grocery store. It's something that I decided early on was important to me. Chances are that if you live within walking distance of a grocery store that you are also within walking distance of other places too. If you've made that choice, you need to make the effort to replace short auto trips with walking or bicycling. It's good for you, and it's good for your pocketbook.