Has anyone else noticed the lack of people out and about on foot? Granted, I venture out mainly in the local area and the surrounding hills could well be full of enthusiastic ramblers. However, there’s definitely a dwindling number of people out on the streets.
Day or night, midweek or weekend, I'm constantly amazed by the lack of activity in the community. Here's little test. Tell someone close that you're heading out somewhere (ideally within a one-mile radius), then watch their face when you say you're going to walk... "Why? Have you no petrol?" "It's a bit cold, I'd drive" "It's getting dark now, be careful" "Are you mad?"
It seems the fear factor has officially taken charge, forcing children indoors and everyone else into their cars. I understand the safety concerns that make us wary of venturing out in certain areas especially at certain times of the day but surely there’s more to it. Yes, you will see the odd group of kids playing but nothing like there was even just 20 years ago when I 'played out' for hours on end, especially in the better weather and on lighter nights. Yes, you might see the odd pair of walkers, even joggers but for a nation of excess fat not nearly enough to justify the sales of step-counting pedometers and toning trainers. Incidentally, some power-walkers I've seen pounding the pavement need not excessively worry about their safety, the anger in their faces and the force of their actions will surely make any would be attacker think again.
Whenever I manage to muster the courage and nip to the local shop after dark, if I see anyone, it's almost always locals driving the two or three blocks to the shop for their bag of treats... Some even wear trainers. Walk anywhere through the day and drivers look at you as though you're up to no good or scouting the area. "No, I needed some cash and I felt a little crazy so I walked to the cashpoint". Tackle a walk on a weekday and it feels like that instant judgement progresses to 'jobless bum' or similar. "No, I've got a days holiday to use and I fancied a stroll into town'.
It's ironic that people have disappeared off the streets because they don’t feel safe, I feel much more comfortable passing other human beings every now and again. More life out and about would make the streets much less daunting and might tempt people from the safety-zone of the car. Perhaps eventually, the streets will become 100 per cent safe as there will be no one outside to either commit or be a victim of crime. No doubt the roads will be safer too because the ever-increasing amount of cars and traffic, will mean no one is going anywhere fast enough to cause any real damage.
Resisting the obvious temptation to lie, I’ll be completely honest. I’m no athlete, I play a bit of football and run very occasionally but I could do lots more. Recently however, I’ve started to explore the local countryside and I’ve stumbled across a secret society of friendly souls, crazy people who like to be outside in the fresh air and are even happy to say hello. Imagine that down at the supermarket, another shopper smiling, saying hello or worse still, passing the time of day on the way to the BOGOFs. Just imagine that, another person saying hello, it’s bonkers. It certainly took me by surprise initially but now I’m better prepared and I even got in there first with the pleasantries last time out.
Undoubtedly there are lots of benefits and it’s mostly free to enjoy the great outdoors so go on, take a walk on the wild side.