We have just finished the school holidays. If you did not read in the paper all of the tips for keeping children entertained during the holidays, you probably wouldn't have noticed. Actually that is wrong. You know it is the school holidays because the number of cars drops by a third in the morning rush hour. Regardless, whether it is the school holidays or not, whether the sun is shining or not, you almost never see children in the street. That is, hanging out and playing and being normal.
It dawned on me the other day that while you may see adults walking around, the vast bulk of them are doing it not to get anywhere but solely to keep fit. That is not a criticism of course - merely an observation.
People who walk places in Australia are just like people who ride bicycles.
You get a tiny minority who make a conscious choice to walk places, perhaps holding a calico bag or shopping basket on the way. On the other hand, some do not make the choice. It is left to them because they do not have access to the dominant and almost exclusive form of transport. They are the utility walkers and are seldom seen.
For a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon on a weekday, you'll see people walking to work too. Often they are in their work gear but with sneakers on. Others will be in their fitness gear. They are the commuter walkers.
But far and away the biggest group are the fitness walkers. It struck me the other day when I was in Golden Grove. That is a 1980s housing development that is totally car-centric. Great wide arterial roads and car parks are everywhere. It was the evening and there seemed to be a good number of people just walking the streets. You could tell they weren't going anywhere. They were just walking for the sake of it. All were dressed in tight pants (lycra - what else?), sports tops with reflective stripes and specialised walking sneakers - with little reflective swooshes on them. And they were walking with purpose. And breathing heavily.
A pair of "walkers" as found in Australia
As with people on bikes, the biggest group of walkers consists of the people who come out at the weekend specially dressed to go nowhere in particular but to go up lots of hills in the process.
We are weird.