I have been living in NYC for almost 5 months and I have pounded the pavement almost every day in an attempt to acclimatize myself to the Big Apple. Manhattan, an island, is approximately 3 miles wide and 13 miles long. The Streets, like 42nd St run east /west. The short distance between streets takes about 1 min to walk. The Avenues, such as Fifth Ave run north /south and are a 1.5 min hike. It is said to be possible to walk the north/ south intersections of midtown Manhattan… for example, 59th St down to 14th St, in about 45 min…if there are no interruptions.
I have learned a few simple, but extremely valuable lessons on why and how one should actually put one foot in front of the other and navigate the sidewalks of this magnificent metropolis.
1. Traversing on foot through Manhattan can be extremely fulfilling. You will witness something new on every venture.
2. You can literally bump into a cross section of the world’s various nationalities while strolling in Manhattan.
3. It is wise and healthy to walk. Since there are few grocery stores, certainly in midtown Manhattan, dining and imbibing in neighbourhood restaurants on a regular basis is de rigueur and also weight gaining. Walking not only encourages cardio health it helps to maintain weight health.
4. Walking allows you to connect with the very unique neighbourhood pockets, the very essence of NYC, which would otherwise be missed with other modes of transportation.
5. Getting from A to B can often be time sensitive, so adopting a RHYTHM to your stride is essential.
6. BUT, it has become abundantly clear to me that said rhythm is easily interrupted on the sidewalks of Manhattan due to:
- construction and scaffolding which is abundant and extremely detrimental to your walking stride
- tourists…since I don’t view myself as one a any longer, I’ve concluded that tourists need their own walking lane…. just saying
- large bags and umbrellas are a huge interference
- strollers and munchkins….in fact families and groups of friends that amble en masse….get a move on please!
- all tour ticket sellers …they seem to be on every single corner … if you are seeking a NYC bus tour, or want to go to the top of The Empire State Building, fear not, you will inevitably come face to face with tour ticket sellers.
- the endless cell phone walker/talker…. They are so attuned to their own walking/talking rhythm, they fail to recognize the true and productive NYC stride
- traffic lights at intersections… this is huge. If you catch one red light while walking a straight course, you will likely run into several more and your walking rhythm will be off kilter and several minutes will be added to your trip. My best advice for this is to change your stride and whip into a store for a quick browse
- Christmas/Holiday Season do not attempt walking….in fact stay away…stay far away from midtown Manhattan, from at least the second week of December until the first week of January.
7. Due to the aforementioned, a certain amount of dodging, sidestepping, weaving in and out and lane passing is inevitable, thus interrupting the rhythm
8. Traffic lights are intended to…..well, I’m not actually certain of their purpose, but I now know that when in Rome ….. pedestrians can cross against a red light but only if traffic is halted. Everyone else does it.
9. If your destination is several blocks north or south AND east or west, I encourage you to zig zag your way to your destination, thereby hopefully avoiding red lights for the most part.
10. There is an inordinate amount horn honking. I used to stop in my tracks, fearing I was the reason for the outburst. Being an almost 5 months in, seasoned NYC walker, I now chuckle at the absurdity of the continual horn honking cacophony.
11. Comfy shoes or boots are a must when pounding the pavement in NYC.
12. Remember that the destination is as equally important as your mode of delivery. Do stop and have a cup of coffee in the numerous cafes, a glass of wine in one of the fabulous bars, or a surprise lunch in a quaint bistro. You will overlook that it is a Zoo out there.