Friday, May 04, 2007Local press decided that our rather 'unrushed' walking speed is actually a virtue of our lifestyle, compared to the fast-paced living of urban-dwellers in other countries facing 'all kinds of diseases'. Do the people who constructed this index not understand the cultural differences between these countries. Living in Bahrain, one fails to see the point of walking at all. The lack of pavements testifies either to lack of demand for walking or the cause of a walking-deficient nation. It seems our legs have been created to perform essential manoevering duties rather than general transportation. Bahrain must have had the coolest weather in it's history this year, how many ppl put their walking boots on? (probably only those who participated in the survey above).
One exception where walking becomes of use, is in the sport of shopping. Shopping malls are indeed one of the few places where you find Bahrainis putting legs to use. Either in the aisles of Geant or the forecourts of Seef, people find great pleasure in having an excuse to walk. Even here however, speed is in 1st gear, rarely moving up to two in a display of wobble-walking that would make mother goose proud!
To be fair, the cultural-aversion to walking is probably due to the other obvious reason; the hot climate, the reliance on cars (a person to car ratio would be a useful statistic alongside the speed of walking), the lack of public spaces (pavements, parks, beaches like Abu subh which is getting destroyed v soon, safe pedestrian cross-overs etc,) and obesity levels (average weight:speed of walking would be useful too). It's great seeing people making the effort to go for walks in the evening after the sun sets but more often than not they are either want to lose weight or have heart problems and face the high-risk of getting run over (how many ppl have been killed in Saar?). It would do our country good to try and incorporate walking into daily life, taking the stairs rather than the lift, having more shaded streets and walkways (like in Spain), maybe even encouraging cycling which is the next best thing (how many Asian labourers get killed cycling every year though?)!