Archive for Other Walkers

More Walkers

My sister, Erin, sent an exciting story about two women from Boulder, CO, who walked the city’s more than one thousand streets. Erin was living in Boulder during the time that I was walking all of the streets of Berkeley, and we had a couple of conversations about how it would have been fun if we did a joint project where she walked the streets of Boulder and we compared and contrasted what we saw and learned in both towns. Sometimes people who have not spent much time in either town like to say that Boulder and Berkeley are very similar, but Erin and I agree that there are quite a few differences between the two places. In any case, two women (ages 63 and 67) walked all of Boulder’s 295 miles of streets over the past year. My favorite part of the article was their pact that they would not cut corners and that they would walk to the end of cul-de-sacs.

As I have mentioned here before, I got rid of my car several years ago. Joe has a car, though it is mostly used for out-of-town journeys — he is also on foot and bike often. During the time we have lived in Berkeley and I have written this blog, we have slowly encountered others who live car-free or car-“lite” lifestyles. Nothing, however, tops the story of Angus Powelson. Joe has been taking the car to Oceanworks here in Berkeley for regular service checkups. He originally went to Oceanworks on recommendations from friends and glowing consumer reviews, but we were pleasantly surprised that Oceanworks also promotes fuel-efficient vehicles and driving less, is solar-powered and is a green business, and even sells folding bikes.

In conversation with Oceanworks owner Angus on his last visit, Joe learned that he has been car-free for a number of years! This may be one of the most unique car-free situations ever. In subsequent emails with Angus, I learned that he has a folding bike, fixed-gear bike, road bike, tandem, skateboards, push scooter, running shoes … but no car. I like to hope that Angus has influenced a few customers to drive a little less and consider other options for getting around. I don’t want to sound like I am advertising here, but I certainly recommend checking out Oceanworks if you live in Berkeley even if you don’t own a car. As I mentioned, they have folding bicycles for sale, and may even start carrying Dutch cargo bikes!


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Odds & Ends

  • The Berkeley Path Wanderers included an article about my walk in their latest newsletter [large PDF file].
  • I recently wrote an article for the Berkeley Daily Planet about some of the interesting places I discovered during my walk of Berkeley.
  • Another every-street walker, in Scotland! Follow Rob’s adventures at Walking Dunfermline.
  • And another walker: Wulf wants to walk every street in Hither Green in 2008, a district in the London borough of Lewisham. Follow it at Walking Hither Green.
  • And somehow I missed Walking the Streets of Forest Hill. Rob walked every public path in Forest Hill (which is also district in London borough of Lewisham), finishing in 2007. I’m excited to go back and read about the walk.

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Another Berkeley Walker!

I was very excited to receive a note from Andy Datlen, a Berkeley resident who has also been attempting to walk every street and path in Berkeley! He started when he retired from EBMUD in 2003, and is about 3/4 of the way done at this point. Like me, he has been using the Berkeley Path Wanderers map to record his progress. Here’s a nice excerpt from Andy’s note, describing his walking experiences in Berkeley:

I was walking in the area North of Marin today around Maryland Ave, and the views across the Bay to the City and Mount Tam were spectacular because it was so clear. In the hilly territory I do about 2-3 miles, whereas in the flat area I used to do about four. Some of those stairways are really steep. I walked the Maryland Steps today, down and back up, and it almost killed me. I do this to keep fit, because I have a serious heart condition, with a pacemaker. If I drop dead on one of the stairways one day I can’t think of a better way to go!

Andy would enjoy being in touch with others who are walking the Berkeley streets. Rather than subject him to lots of spam, please either leave a comment here or email me at jen.in510 [at], and I will forward your contact information to him.

Progress of Andy’s walk, recorded on the Path Wanderers map

In my series about Why People Walk, I covered exercise in general and spiritual and meditative walking, but Andy’s correspondence made me realize that it would be great to talk about walking and medical conditions. If you have walked to recover from an illness or injury or walk as ongoing therapy for a chronic condition, and would like to share your story, please contact me. Your identity, of course, can remain anonymous if you wish. And if you are in Berkeley and walking has been recommended to you by a medical professional, you are indeed lucky — as you can see from Andy’s comments. While the walking itself may be painful or difficult, you will have a chance to enjoy wonderful views, hidden stairways, interesting architecture, and unique sights.

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Other Walkers, Part 4

Despite all of the interesting and fun things going on in Berkeley and the rest of the East Bay, it is sometimes difficult to convince friends and acquaintances in San Francisco to make the trip over here. I can understand — driving over the Bay Bridge at most times is a nightmare, and BART might seem intimidating if you are not used to taking public transportation (though it is an easy and quick trip to and from San Francisco) or if you are uncomfortable with being in an underwater tube. New York City seems to have a reputation for taking the “I never leave the city” sentiment to a whole other level. I have heard plenty of stories of references to anywhere outside of the city as “upstate” or comments about not having any reason to go anywhere else. But even leaving Manhattan for the other boroughs is unheard of for some. Staten Island always seems to get the worst of it. In a New Yorker “Talk of the Town” piece from earlier this fall about a guidebook to the borough of Queens, one of the founders of the company says “the one [guidebook] we really will not do is Staten Island. There‚Äôs just nothing there.” Despite the humorous nature of the article, I wished upon reading that statement that I could move to Staten Island for a year and walk all of its streets. Somehow I do not believe there is really nothing there. Luckily, I can stay where I am right now because someone just started walking streets the of Staten Island. Needless to say, I am pretty excited to follow the progress of the walk, and I am particularly interested in hearing more about the abandoned hospitals and other buildings that are supposed to be located there.

Speaking of abandonment, another walker I am now following is Neath, who is based in Montreal. His blog, Walking Turcot Yards, describes his exploration of “a vast incredible ‘abandoned’ space in the south west of Montreal.” Lots of interesting topics are covered on the blog — such as urban exploration, development, and railroad history — and there are many great photos of the area. One interesting thing that I have been finding in my periodic searches for others walkers is people doing walks as art projects or as an academic exploration in fields such as landscape architecture, urban theory, and psychogeography. Stayed tuned for a future post looking at some of these projects and at the different reasons why people are out there walking.

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Walking Isn’t Boring, Part 3: Holiday Decorations

General note: This series of entries is inspired by the idea that walking in even the most ordinary of places can be interesting.

For some of the people close to me, I am not the most fun person to be around during the holiday season. For whatever reason, I do not get that excited about many of the holiday traditions that most people love, and I am not a fan of the shopping excess that is a huge focus of the American holiday season. This year, though, I find I am actually looking forward to something that comes along with the holidays, that being all of the decorations that people put on their porches and in their front yards and on their rooftops.

Over the weekend, I noticed the first of the pumpkins and cardboard Halloween decorations. Those will be followed by gourds, turkeys, and other Thanksgiving and harvest decorations, and then the Christmas lights and displays, menorahs for Hanukkah, and paper snowflakes (yes, even in California) and other winter decor. What most interests me most is finding the unique personal expression that goes into holiday decorations. This display for instance, found last year in a front yard in Berkeley, featured lots of reindeer, lights, and … a frog figurine?

Photo by Joe Reifer

I am not the only walker who has been noticing the holiday displays. Ron, who recently started a blog about walking the streets of Fort Bragg, California, found a scary Halloween display at a house that already seemed haunted during the rest of the year. If you are interested in learning more about the Mendocino Coast town of Fort Bragg (not to be confused with the military town of Fort Bragg, North Carolina), be sure to check out Ron’s blog!

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Other Walkers, Part 3

I had seriously hoped to have many posts about people walking every street of cities in different parts of the world, but this may not be the case. I found plenty of every-street walkers in New York and California, but not many in other places. In the U.S., Francine Corcoran walked every street in Minneapolis. In New Mexico, Suzanne is walking all 400 miles of Catron County.

Outside of the U.S., Bob and Linda are walking the streets of Dunedin, New Zealand. In Australia, Alan Waddell is walking every street of the Sydney suburbs (over 200 suburbs as of this writing). Also in Australia, Spike — who maintains the blog This Isn’t Sydney — walked the streets of Woy Woy and is continuing on with the towns and suburbs in Brisbane Water (north Broken Bay, in New South Wales). Spike’s walking plan has been inspirational in terms of thinking about my own walking. After I finish walking all of Berkeley, I would like to continue with neighboring communities and other towns in the Bay Area. Spike has a nice set of maps that show his walks, which — like Berkeley and its environs — are situated on a bay.

Although I did plenty of it earlier in my life, I really began to appreciate walking when I went to London for a semester in college. When I didn’t have classes or other activities, I spent hours walking everywhere in the city, either directly from my flat or by picking a random Tube stop and getting off and walking from there. It was winter, and an unusually cold one for London, so I had a hard time convincing my friends and classmates (who were from California and Hawaii) to go on walks, even with promises of stops at pubs along the way. It was their loss — it really was a great way to get to know the city. In the 1930s, Phyllis Pearsall walked all of London’s streets and went on to found the A-Z Map Company. I have not been able to find any information about anyone else doing this since then, in London or elsewhere in the UK. There is, however, a novel (which I have not read yet) by Geoff Nicholson called Bleeding London that features a character who walks every street in London.

I have not yet found instances of every-street walkers in other parts of the world. Of course, there may well be others that I have missed because I have only searched for material in English.

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Other Walkers, Part 2: California

General note about this series of entries: It is hard to know how many other every-street walkers are out there. I imagine there plenty who go about their walking quietly, without being noticed by the local news media or without documenting it for the general public online or in print. If you happen to know someone who has walked or is currently in the process of walking every street somewhere (a few are highlighted in my links on the right sidebar) please let me know.

So far no one has come forward to say that they have (or know someone else) who has walked every street in Berkeley. I am still holding out hope; it would be fun to meet up with someone else to compare notes. However, I have received plenty of notes from people who do lots of walking in Berkeley, which is encouraging! San Francisco seemed like a likely place where someone would be walking every street, and in fact the “Walking Man” does just that. Tom Graham writes an occasional series for the San Francisco Chronicle on his walking adventures on the city’s 2,350 streets.

Elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dinesh and Joy Desai walked every street in the town of Los Altos back in 1985. Since then, Dinesh (sometimes with his wife and other friends) has embarked on a number of other walking and hiking adventures, including a 110-mile solo walk around the Salton Sea, a walk of the length of Death Valley National Park (during the summer), and a walks covering the entire California coast.

If, like me, you are so tired of hearing the same old media stories about Los Angeles and its love of the automobile, you will be refreshed to find that someone is indeed Walking in L.A. You can see photos and maps of Neil Hopper’s walks in Los Angeles back to 2002. If you have spent much time in the San Francisco area you have no doubt encountered attitudes of superiority when the subject of SF vs. LA comes up. I suspect getting off of the freeways and onto to the streets on foot might erase some of those feelings. With architecture alone, there is so much to see: Hollywood bungalows, the Googie coffee shops and restaurants, the many interesting examples of modern architecture, and much more. Then there are the beach areas, the hip neighborhoods that have developed in places like Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park, hills and parks, and the landmarks that most people drive by in a car. If you are interested in walking in Los Angeles, Hopper’s site and the book Walking L.A., by Erin Manohey, look like good places to start.

I have not heard of anyone walking every street in Sacramento, but a Davis resident in his late 70s has walked every street there and now helps with a healthy walking program in town. Otherwise I have not heard of walkers in other cities in California, but I imagine they are out there!

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