Opinion: Green walkers are Earth lovers


By Sam Garcia

For the past 30 or so years, I have located my residence and my place of business within walking distance of each other. For nearly a quarter century now, I have lived in urban areas where retail services and other community functions are within walking distance.

So, I walk a lot. I intimately know the walking patterns of South Coast Highway, Glenneyre and Catalina. When I’m not walking, I’m often driving an electric golf cart. As a result, my carbon footprint is very low relative to the average American.

But I’ve come to realize, walking can at times be far worse than driving a car when it comes to greenhouse emissions.

Imagine a busy Coast Highway with a lone person meandering through a cross walk, looking at their cell phone, as 40 cars in both directions sit idle burning gasoline waiting for the street to be clear to before they continue on. I’ve even seen some pedestrians deliberately walk at a snail’s pace across PCH, seemingly emboldened with the power that accompanies being able to stop so many people for a brief time. That many cars burning gasoline during these periods doesn’t bode well for the environment.

So, as a walker, I’ve tried to change my walking behavior in a way that actually does reduce my carbon footprint rather that increase it.

One of those ways is to not linger at any corner that has a crosswalk. When I am driving, I always slow down or stop when someone is standing at the corner. But often, those corner lingerers are not crossing the street—leaving drivers to burn gasoline as they as they guess when it is clear to cross safely in their vehicle.

Sometimes when I’ve decided to wait for cars to clear before I proceed through a crosswalk, I’ll step away from the crosswalk and turn around to make it clear I’m not going to cross. Yet still, there will be cars that wait for me despite my efforts to assure them I’m not crossing or waive them through. If all else fails, I’ll walk away from the crosswalk to get the idle car moving.

Another strategy I use is to look both directions at the approaching cars and ask myself, “if I wait up to 30 seconds before pushing the crosswalk button, will there be fewer cars that need to stop than if I cross now?” Often, I can easily see that I can wait some short period of time and reduce the number of cars burning fuel at my expense.

When I do decide to cross, especially on a busy summer day, I walk quickly through the crosswalk. Tourists can tend to linger or walk at a leisurely pace, and there is nothing we can do about. But when it’s just me, I briskly cross the street—saving dead idling time for several or many cars in the process.

When walking past driveways, I try to let cars exiting the driveway leave before I cross it. In addition to cutting my carbon footprint, I’m also lowering the chance I’ll be hit by that car.

Since I drive an electric vehicle, I am often able to use the some of these same principles and let gas automobiles go ahead of me.

I’m always looking out for more ways to do more to reduce carbon emissions, and I’ll be back with an update after I identify additional methods to be a better green walker. Write to me with any ideas you have.

Sam spent two decades in the mortgage industry primarily in third-party originations for non-agency loans. He founded the first online-only mortgage trade news publication, Mortgage Daily, in 1998 and sold it in 2021. He is the CEO of Laguna Beach-based Sam Garcia & Co., and lives with his wife in Laguna Beach. Email: [email protected]

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