Gary over at runs brooklyn/brooklyn runs asked to hear more about the planning process for my walks, whether I carry a map, etc., so I thought I would explain it for others who might be interested. Gary, who is in the process of running every street in Brooklyn, documents all of the details of his runs (distance, time, temperature, etc.) in addition to providing interesting commentary on the neighborhoods.
Before I go on a walk, I pull out my map and decide which neighborhood I want to visit that day. I try to vary what part of town I pick with each walk or with every other walk, so that I can compare and contrast different areas. On a small piece of paper I start writing out directions for a walk, with the distance based on how much time I have to walk that day. Sometimes I will write in an optional addition to the route to walk if I end up having more time. With any luck, I can follow the directions without having to pull out the map during the walk. I carry the map with me in case I need to use it, but generally try to be discreet about it. When I am walking alone in neighborhoods that tend to have higher incidences of crime, I never pull out a map or give any indication that I don’t know where I am going. It would be nice to not have to worry about these things, but as woman walking alone I have to be realistic about the potential dangers of appearing hesitant or lost.
Generally on my walks I take notes in addition to photos. When I get home, I mark the completed streets on the map, and transfer my notes into a master notebook for the walk. I do not record details like distance, time, weather, etc. Normally, it would be more appealing to me to keep a detailed journal or spreadsheet, and this is precisely the reason I have not done it for this project. I tend towards more scientific, goal-oriented methods for my other projects and interests, so I thought it would be good to break out of that habit and try to be okay with a more free-form approach once in awhile. Sometimes it is difficult. This weekend my walk was going smoothly until I could not find the street where I was supposed to turn next. It was not a good area to be pulling out the map, so I had to keep going and hope to eventually get back on track. I was frustrated that something had gone wrong, but in fact it turned out okay in the end. I got back to the route and, though I missed a couple of streets I wanted to walk, I walked a couple of other streets that I had planned on leaving for another time.
Of course if I had a limited amount of time to walk (or had to contend with a much larger area and more harsh weather conditions), I would be much more precise about my planning. And as I approach the end of walking every street, I imagine I will be a bit more careful to avoid going back to an area to get one or two streets I missed.