There’s something I overlooked when I came to Strasbourg. Namely, how much of a pain in the ass walking is.
Mind you, I’m from Portland. “Walkability” is the buzzword of the week in downtown Portlandia. I figured, hey, Strasbourg is a tiny city, who needs a bus or tram pass? I can just walk everywhere! It’s cheap, easy, and good exercise! I’ll get to smell the roses and all that rot.
Oh, how naive of me.
I’ve been hoofing it every day for the past seventeen days. And I’m going to be frank: it blows. I live right across from the centre-ville, a block away from this park called “Place de la République”. It’s a beautiful area I live in and very walkable—in theory.
In practice…well, not so much.
I’m twenty minutes from campus. An easy, quick walk, right? I’m twenty minutes from the heart of the city too. And from Place d’Austerlitz, Petite France, the Gare Centrale, etc. Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Twenty minutes from everywhere!
And those minutes add up. For example, I have a short 8 a.m. class on Tuesdays and my next class after that is at 2 p.m. Since not much is open at 9 a.m. (and I’m too cheap to buy breakfast at places that are), I head home to kill time. Of course, I’ll want to go downtown later to grab a bite before class in the afternoon (another twenty minutes) and after finishing up my stereotypically French lunch, I’ll want to head over to campus (yet another twenty minutes). Once my afternoon classes finish up, I might go head out to grab a bite with friends or simply go home. Either way, add at least another twenty minutes. By the time I’m home for the evening, I will have spent at least 100 minutes walking, averaging out to about ten kilometers a day at minimum.
Like I said earlier, twenty minutes is a nice jaunt. But when you walk everywhere like I do, those add up quick. Bipedal locomotion nickel and dimes you with minutes like a painful cellphone contract. And don’t even get me started about when it rains here. Unlike Portland’s seemingly perpetual drizzling, when it rains in Strasbourg, it pours. Even with a raincoat, walking all day in that kind of weather is a special kind of miserable. As I found out today.
I can already hear you saying,“Drake, just take the tram!” Well, the tram is only five minutes faster to campus from here, assuming the train I want leaves at the time I need it to. If I end up having to wait for the train (read: yes), then my time efficiency went out the window. Sure, I don’t have to physically walk and I’m out of the rain, but that’s not really what I care most about. I care about how much of a time sink this whole walking thing is, not the process of walking itself (although my blistered feet would protest this).
So, since I generally abhor public transit in principle and walking is really getting old, I have a solution: Get. A. Fucking. Bike.
Which is exactly what I’ll do. I never thought I’d become a dreaded bike commuter, but by jove, I will be one soon enough. May the car gods have mercy on my sinful soul.