Walking to Work? 6 Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Commute

While not always practical year-round, walking to work is a good option for many city dwellers who live in close proximity to their places of employment. But in order for your walk to be safe and enjoyable, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.

1. Leave on Time

You need to give yourself plenty of time to get to work. While walking makes you less susceptible to things like train delays and traffic jams, you never want to put yourself in a position where you have to speed-walk or jog into the office.

When you first start walking to work, leave far earlier than you think you should and track how long it takes you. You’ll start to get a feel for how long it takes on sunny days versus rainy days, early mornings versus late mornings, and Saturdays versus Mondays. Eventually you’ll reach a point where you can pinpoint your walk time within just a minute or two.

2. Dress Appropriately

What you wear will have a huge impact on your walking speed and comfort. In particular, pay attention to your shoes.

The proper footwear will make or break your walk into work. While you might wear high heels in the office, heels are a definite no-go on the way into the office. Try a pair of flats or tennis shoes. (You can always change into another pair upon arrival.)

3. Be Mindful of Crosswalks

Walking on a sidewalk is easy and predictable. Things get more challenging when you reach intersections. Make sure you’re familiar with the rules so that you stay safe.

Crosswalks with traffic control signs are pretty easy to navigate. You simply wait for the white pedestrian symbol to light up and you can begin to walk. (Though it’s still wise to keep an eye on traffic – which may not be looking for you.)

“If you are at a crosswalk with no traffic control signs then you have the right of way,” Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. mentions. “If the pedestrian is halfway through the crosswalk or in the line of an oncoming car, the car must yield to the pedestrian. However, the pedestrian cannot just step in front of a car when it is too late for the car to stop. In this case it is the pedestrian’s responsibility to yield to oncoming traffic.”

A cautious approach is best when crossing streets. Always keep your head on a swivel and think twice before ever moving in front of a moving car. You can’t ever assume someone will stop.

4. Stick to Main Routes

For safety reasons, it’s best to stick to heavily populated areas and main roads. Be wary of taking too many backstreets or alleys – particularly early in the morning or late at night. Even if it requires you to walk an extra quarter of a mile, public areas will improve your safety.

5. Carry the Right Bag

The type of bag you carry into work can make a huge difference in the quality and comfort of your walk.

“Your usual briefcase or shoulder bag is likely to be uncomfortable to carry for more than 10 minutes. Switching to a backpack or messenger bag will allow you to carry the load while maintaining good walking posture,” health expert Wendy Bumgardner writes. “This can help prevent a backache from walking with poor body alignment. Avoid carrying anything in your hands, which can lead to repetitive strain for your neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist.”

In some cases, you might not need to carry a full bag. You might be better off leaving your bag at the office in the evenings so that you don’t have to lug it back and forth.

6. Spruce Up at Work

Plan on working up a little sweat – and hunger – on the way into the office. It’s for this reason that you should keep a little bag in your desk to help you spruce up. Deodorant, face wipes, an extra change of clothes, and a few breakfast bars will come in handy on many occasions.

Is Walking to Work Right for You?

When it comes to commuting to work, you have a handful of options to choose from. This may include biking, walking, driving, carpooling, or public transportation. It’s up to you to decide which one makes the most sense. You’ll have to weigh factors like time, cost, safety, environmental impact, and practicality.

If you decide that walking is your best option, make sure you heed the advice outlined in this article. If nothing else, it’ll increase your odds of safely arriving at work in a timely manner.