Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Monday, March 30, 2015

WALKING SLIGHTLY


This thing popped up on my yahoo front page:


It was the headline “This Ford GT Has Fewer Than You Walk In A Day” that really caught my attention, obviously. And as you read the article you discover that the car has 2.7 miles on the clock, and is coming up for auction, expected to sell for about half a million dollars.


And I began wondering first of all who the “you” in that headline is referring to, and then I wondered just how many miles does the average person people walk in a day.  I accept that average is a fairly nebulous term here, but still …

My less than exhaustive research suggests that nobody really knows, although there have been plenty of studies that have come up with various contestable answers, many of them involving experiments that involve giving people pedometers. 

Now this strikes me as a, let’s say, flawed methodology.  If you give somebody a pedometer and tell them you’re going to measure how far they walk, you can be sure that people are obviously going to aim for the big numbers and walk a lot more than they usually do.  So … using the (I would say inflated) results, a 2010 study by David R Bassett of the University of Tennessee, concluded that the average American walks 5,117 steps a day.


Of course steps come in various sizes – if they averaged 3 feet each that would 5117 yards or 2.9 miles – thereby in fact proving that yahoo headline to be perfectly true.  However, I’m guessing that when you’re shuffling around the kitchen or the office these steps are considerably shorter.  Similar studies show that the Americans are way behind western Australia (9,695 steps), Switzerland (9,650 steps) and Japan (7,168 steps) per day.

And as for the British, well again, the information is patchy but a 2011 article in the Daily Mail contained such gems as “Britons typically walk an average of two miles a day,” “one in six say they need to put their feet up when they return back at their desk or get home,” “the average Briton becomes exhausted after only walking up the stairs.”

Again the notion of an average Briton is pretty meaningles, but I find all this extremely plausible.  For what it’s worth, my own observations, unscientific  though they are, do suggest that the British probably do walk more than their American counterparts, even given huge variations in and between both groups.


Now, a lot of people assume that because I like walking I must hate cars.  This is not actually true, and is possibly a secret shame.  Of course I don’t have half a million dollars burning a hole in my pocket, but if I did who’s to say I wouldn’t blow it on a ridiculous supercar?   However, I’m pretty sure that in no circumstances would I buy a nine-year-old car with just 2.7 miles on the clock.  In order to stay healthy, cars need exercising just like people.


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