Simple little things to reduce your carbon footprint #2: Cross-off crosswalks

This is my second blog post where I share ideas about small changes you can incorporate into your daily life to be just a little kinder to Mother Earth.   My opinion is that all the little things we do can build up momentum and really add up to a positive change for this planet we share.  The small changes I suggest in this blog won’t have you feeling like you’ve deprived yourself.

Our tip for today is: cross-off crosswalks from your walks.

(say that one 3 times fast…)

So, let’s say you’re enjoying a nice walk on a beautiful day and you’ve reached a point where you need to cross the street to reach your destination. How do you make it across? How about forgetting the crosswalk?

Here’s my thinking:

I’ve noticed that on many urban thoroughfares, there is often a crosswalk a block or two away from regular traffic lights. When a pedestrian activates the crosswalk lights, cars must stop and idle their engines while the walker crosses.  (Depending on the street, this can be quite a few cars.)  All that fuel is being burned without serving much purpose.  Add the regular traffic lights I mentioned, and the cars may be starting and stopping quite a bit on a short stretch of road.

If you’re out travelling within your city, powered by your own two feet, why not take the small detour to the regular traffic lights, where cars need to stop anyway?  You’re enjoying the fresh air and sun already, so enjoy a few extra minutes of it. Here’s an example of a stretch of road that I encountered in Winnipeg where I found the crosswalk could be completely skipped.

A crosswalk and many stop lights
So many ways to cross the street, and so many ways to reduce your carbon footprint

In the image above, imagine you’re the smiley-face pedestrian wanting to head to the destination marked by the X.  There’s a crosswalk and two traffic lights each within a block from you. You can easily walk the distance of these little detours, so there’s no reason to make the cars idle.

And, if you’re a cyclist at the intersection above, already doing your part by getting your vehicle off the road, c’mon, man, why would you use the crosswalk and make the cars idle?

I know this tip doesn’t apply to every crosswalk in every city.  Sometimes, it’s a very busy road and there’s no traffic light or any other break in the flow of cars. But in many cases, a small detour will get you to your destination while you enjoy the extra bit of exercise.

You could also stand there and wait for a break in traffic like I sometimes do, and then run across the street, but that’s a tip for stubborn eco-vigilantes.  I’d recommend that only for advanced carbon-reduction users 🙂

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