As a planner and planning storyteller, I love walkable places; mixed-use, wide sidewalks; bike paths; premium transit; parks; transit-oriented development; compact development; and the like. But for many years, I wasn’t good at practicing what I preached.
Then COVID hit and I could work from home, so I wasn’t in the car to commute to an office.
That meant a chance to break free of the drive-thru greasy lunch break, or bringing home a supersized pizza on a slight detour on the way home.
I took advantage of living between two major urban corridors—Miami’s Calle Ocho and Coral Way—and walked to pharmacies, markets, hardware stores, and other places for daily needs.
I bought local food and cooked lunch for my also-working-from-home spouse.
We walked all over the neighborhood, masked, and we documented and shared with the city every broken sidewalk, messed-up crosswalk, vacant lot, derelict house, and broken bus bench in a vast swath of urban Little Havana.
When we wanted to go someplace outdoors and different, we drove. But we did what planners strive for in 24-7 downtowns and Main Streets: We parked the car once and walked—all over Brickell, Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and beyond.
When it was safe to travel to Manhattan for a major project in May (after I got the second dose of the COVID vaccine), I vowed to not take a taxi, car service, or rideshare…even from JFK. I used transit.
I stopped in Jackson Heights on the way into Manhattan and walked all over that diverse neighborhood. Instead of using two train connections, I walked further to catch a train that would get me to within five blocks of my destination. I used the ferry to go to Long Island City and I ran along all the relatively-new public spaces and parks on the East River, with spectacular skyline views to the west.
Back home, we are very close to transitioning from a two-car to one-car family.
The payoff for all of this?