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Suburban sprawl makes walking a haul - Zach Porter

The past weekend I took a trip to New York City for a short vacation. Looking around on the busy streets and the underground bustle of the subway, I realized that the majority of New Yorkers had one thing in common; they were all as thin as sheets hanging on a clothesline. It occurred to me that I once fit in with these stick figures during my six month residency in Brooklyn. Since I moved back to Atlanta over two years ago I have gained some 30 pounds, maybe more.

The answer to why all these people are so thin is simple, they live in a walking city. They still enjoy fresh coffee and doughnuts at every corner, pizza or cannoli in all the five boroughs, but they walk as they feast on all that the city has to offer.

Even if you take the bus, subway, or cab, you still end up walking a good bit while in New York City out of convenience. Who wants to take a cab three blocks? The same goes for the subway or bus which may not be the best option if you are not going very far. The result is that you get your exercise while taking care of business or even just having a leisurely day. You don't have to make extra time for exercising to keep that waist line in check.

Back here in Atlanta it's another story. I drive everywhere, the only walking I do is in parking lots and grocery stores. Super Targets and Wal-Marts. I have to make time to get to the track to burn those calories. This is no match for running down Brighton Avenue to catch the Q express train on time, hurdling over bums and knocking into fruit vendors with coffee, doughnut, and newspaper in hand.

Metro Atlanta and even most of downtown is not "walking friendly." Certain small pockets of land in Virginia-Highland and Buckhead may yield some nice areas to walk in but only if these places are as close as your front door step. Piedmont Park is great if you live down the street but having to drive there, find parking, then walk; it sort of takes the fun out of it.

But, my laments are useless. I have no great suggestion for this besides moving to a neighborhood where I can walk to dinner and shake off dessert on the way home. Or just move away from this metro sprawl we call Atlanta. Stuck in the morning traffic jams on I-75 going to work, I long for the smelly, people-stuffed subway cars of New York. Sure it was crowded, but I felt closer to humanity than I do sitting in rush hour traffic staring at the drones on cell phones trudging along next to me.

Zach Porter is a photographer for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 or zporter@news-daily.com