Sue Greenwald, a downtown Davis resident and member of the Davis City Council, enjoys regular walks through the UC Davis Arboretum and to downtown restaurants and shops. Mike Syvanen/Courtesy photo

By Sue Greenwald, cross-posted from the Davis Enterprise

When we think of Davis, we think of bicycles, Unitrans, Amtrak and yes, maybe even Zipcar. But I want to speak today about the forgotten Davis pedestrian.

The Cool Davis Festival folks asked me to write about why I chose the walking lifestyle. Since more than 50 percent of our household gas emissions are related to our transportation habits, those of us living a walking lifestyle have an important perspective to help envision a low-carbon future.
When my husband and I moved to Davis, we could have bought a home in any number of wonderful Davis neighborhoods. But we made the ultimate sacrifice, at least for a hoarder like myself — we bought a house very short of closets, but in walking distance of just about everything in Davis.

And I walk. I walk around the Arboretum, I walk to the restaurants, I walk to work and I walk to shop. I walk to the Trader Joe’s and I walk to the Food Co-op. And I walk to the frozen yogurt shop far too often.

I walk to concerts at the Mondavi Center with my dress shoes in a handbag and I walk lectures on campus. And, of course, I walk to the Farmers Market. I walk to the ArtAbout downtown and walk to my Scrabble game in Central Park.

“When I walk, I can smell and feel the air. I can see the little things and take in the totality of my surroundings.”

One day my suitcase and I walked to the Amtrak station, where I took the train to Richmond, then stepped onto BART and got off at the San Francisco airport. When I got to Shanghai, I was picked up in a car.

If I drive to the grocery store, it feels like a chore. If I walk to the grocery store, it feels like a treat.

When I walk, I can smell and feel the air. I can see the little things and take in the totality of my surroundings, like watching the individual buds on the branches as they develop in the spring and watching with that touch of sadness when the last flowers start to fall in autumn.

But soon I can smell the rain and see the beauty of the night lights reflecting off the water-slickened stamped concrete at our downtown crosswalks.

This morning, a rabble of butterflies appeared on the street in front of me. A painted lady landed at my feet. What attracted her to the pavement I could not tell, but she wouldn’t be budged.

When you walk, I notice things. Why are the police looking sideways at that car’s trunk? Where are those students going all dressed up? Is a new store moving into the vacant storefront downtown?

And, of course, I stop and talk to people. Walking is not just a mode of transportation; it is truly the best part of the day.

Someday, I hope I can achieve my dream to see a transit-oriented housing development built near downtown, hopefully on a large, currently underused industrial site near downtown and the train depot. Then many, many more Davisites could enjoy the walking lifestyle.

The Cool Davis Festival on Sunday has a lot to offer those who want to get serious about changing their transportation habits. Central and West Davisites can walk to the festival at the Veterans’ Memorial Center with the Davis Dynamos. They will assemble at César Chávez Elementary School, 1207 Anderson Road, at 1:20 p.m. and walk over to catch the taiko drumming opening of the festival at 1:45.

For more information about the walk to the festival, call JoAnn Pelz at (530) 304-6834. To learn more about Volksporting and the Davis Dynamos, go to Once at the festival, you can examine all your walking and biking options, comparing time and distances for your regular trips around town — to school, church, the grocery store, etc.

Whether you can attend the festival or not, I encourage all Davis residents to take a walk this weekend. Choose a pleasant route to somewhere you would normally drive. Listen, and see your community from the pedestrian perspective. Then join me and other Davisites in contributing your ideas and dreams to the discussion of our low-carbon future.

— Sue Greenwald is a downtown Davis resident and a member of the Davis City Council.