Have you ever visited New York City and wondered why everyone walks so damn fast? I lived there for over 10 years and definitely became a fast-walker myself. I think there are a few reasons for all this fast-walking and I thought I’d take this opportunity to provide a bridge of cultural understanding between New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers.
When you live in NYC, you walk a lot. Walking is one of the most efficient ways to get around NYC. Subways and buses will take you far, but they don’t take you door to door. You need to walk the last bit. Yes, there are taxicabs, but it starts to get expensive if you take a cab everywhere. Plus, even when you want a cab, sometimes you can’t get one. And forget about having your own car and driving it everywhere, because parking costs a fortune. If you live in NYC, you be walking all the time. And when you be walking all the time, you get to be good at walking. You’re fit, or at least, walking-fit. You develop the capacity for walking fast. And when you have the capacity for walking fast, you tend to use it.
No matter where you live, if you’re trying to get somewhere, it’s tempting to move quickly. If you live in a car-based community, you’ll tend to drive at the speed limit rather than moseying down the street at a leisurely pace. Living in New York, you’ll tend to walk fast rather than ambling down the sidewalk.
Do people in NYC ever go out walking just for pleasure? Of course. In that situation, they’ll probably walk more slowly. At least, I did. I also walked more slowly when I was kicking around the city with my son Luc. He was between zero and two years old when we lived in NYC, so I’d either be carrying him, pushing him in a stroller, or walking with him. In all those cases, we’d inevitably be moving slowly. If we were walking somewhere with lots of people, I’d try to stay to the side so as not to interrupt the flow too much. It’s akin to driving slowly on the highway — it’s OK, but it’s better to stay in the slow lane rather than blocking traffic.
Now I’m not saying all this rushing about is good for us. I’m just saying it’s human nature, and it affects people living in New York City and everywhere else, too. No matter where you live, dashing around is tempting, but it can be stressful and take away from our enjoyment of life. Enjoying the journey a little more, whether walking or driving, will do you good.