If you could walk to work, would you?
Compared with sitting in rush-hour traffic — which many of you endured Wednesday afternoon — a leisurely stroll to the office might sound pretty nice.
And yet, not a lot of us do it. Just look at the statistics: For every 35 American workers, just one commutes by foot. Most of us live too far from the workplace to make walking a practical option.
This is less true for the city of Seattle, where many people live in proximity to job centers. About 36,000 Seattleites — 10 percent of all workers — have a walking commute.
That isn’t too surprising, but this may be more unexpected: Some quintessentially suburban areas of Redmond and Bellevue have a higher percentage of people who walk to work than most places in Seattle.
Analysis of census tract data shows that in the areas surrounding the Microsoft campus — a mix of single-family homes and low-rise apartment complexes — about one out of six residents walks to work.
It’s not hard to figure out why. Unusual for a suburb, this area contains both a major employer and has good sidewalks.
The implication is clear: Give people the option of walk commuting, and a lot of them will.
And don’t be surprised if they have a smile on their face. Canadian researchers recently studied six modes of commuter transportation to determine which one makes people the happiest. Answer: walking.
Find out how many people walk to work in your neighborhood — explore the data using our interactive map of King County census tracts.
And if you’re interested in learning more about promoting walkable communities in Washington, visit Feet First, a Seattle-based walking advocacy group.
Related story: Extreme walking commuter puts feet first