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Walking – solves the parking problem

Donna Mickleson
Wednesday November 14, 2001


I’ve been following the exchange about downtown parking, and found Planning Commission chair Rob Wrenn’s letter (typically for him) clear, logical and comprehensive. And I love Bonnie Hughes’ sane-and-zany points, including the irony of all the serious treadmillers who probably drive a mile or less to get to the gym. 

With Jenny Wenk and everyone else that thinks of more parking as a solution and driving as a necessity for most folks, I want to share some of my own personal transportation experiences. I consider living in Berkeley (in my case, not in the hills) a privilege for many reasons, but among them is the fact that I’ve been able to explore and in some small ways innovate in finding practical ways to run my life while minimizing car use. (It is so frustrating and expensive to drive in urban areas, and so little fun!) 

I am one of those people who needs to watch my weight and can’t ever manage to find a separate, “dedicated time” for Exercise (capital “E” intentional.) It’s just part of my nature to look for “twofers”: e.g., using my body while getting to work, shopping, running errands, etc. 

I used to bike to work, and I still have my bicycle set up with both a center rear basket and side panniers for packages of various sorts. But the trip wasn’t long enough (about a mile each way) to get much exercise riding, so I began walking. I hated dealing with a heavy backpack, so I got one of those four-wheeled foldable shopping carts, and after struggling with wasteful and leaking plastic trash bags in the rain, learned of a booth at the Ashby Flea Market that has, for about four dollars, a great zip-top heavy gauge woven plastic bag that makes a perfect insert and even has handles for easy liftout at home. I call the whole rig my “Lincoln Town Car”, which always getsa few laughs. 

But the main thing is that the walking is so relaxing and refreshing! I can listen to tapes or my radio – or not, watch the progress of roses throughout a year...I still love to do longer errands by bike (sometimes Kaiser, Emeryville Marketplace, etc.) and use BART to A’s games and to San Francisco for some classes I take. I do own a car, and use it when necessary, but most of the time my basic motto is “ABC”: Anything But the Car. 

For the record, I am 59. Granted, no children for me to ferry about these days. But I do feel that by the time I get into Ms. Wenk’s theoretically “car dependent” demographic, I’ll still be in plenty good enough shape to go on enjoying life more because I’m driving less. 


Donna Mickleson