Biking also works. Sometimes I take my bicycle and just ride it around the city aimlessly.
“When people say something is pedestrian they mean flat, limited in scope,” says Solnit.
That usage is hundreds of years old. Pedestrian is being used in comparison to equestrian. The rich had horse-drawn carriages, and the poor did not.
I do think that the social class angle provides an interesting lens into our attitudes toward walking, as with all daily activities. A 10-mile walk is, in truth, egalitarian. Whether you’re rich or poor, you walk in the same environment as everyone else. And if it’s a serious walk, you’re not going to be in showy clothing. You’re going to dress for comfort and look like anyone else.
What has amazed me over the past 30 years is how averse people have become to discomfort. I drove across Death Valley in a car without air conditioning. It was 115 degrees (46 C). When I tell people that, they think I’m insane or that it’s dangerous. It’s really not. You bring (and drink) a lot of water and you’re fine.
Oddly enough, and I’m guilty of this as well, I think that walkability is becoming a status symbol. (Perhaps I’m biased, having lived in New York and Chicago.) A 45-minute commute to work seems to be a sign of low socioeconomic status, not high. Most of the well-to-do people I know use cars mainly for weekend trips and groceries, but try to live within walking or transit distance of urban activity (note: in New York, even MD-level bankers use the subway) even if that means having a smaller house and renting into your mid-30s.