Chicago is the third largest city (by population) in the United States, after Los Angeles and New York, with Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and San Antonio following. These U.S. cities have a lot to offer, but navigating through them by driving can be difficult. Fortunately, walking is a great way to get around and see all of the major attractions each city has to offer.
Pro: Environmentally Friendly
Walking, without a doubt, is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel. The majority of people drive gas-powered cars, and while these cars don’t release as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as they have in previous decades, they still release CO2. Hybrid cars use both gas and electricity, making them slightly more environmentally friendly than gas-only cars, but they’re not as green as electric cars. However, the switch to electric cars is still pretty slow, so walking is a good way to go green if you live in a big city.
Con: Weather has to Permit Walking
While walking is better for the environment, the environment may not always allow you to walk, or at least walk safely. In most big cities across the U.S., the weather is perfect for walking more often than it is not. Certain times of the year and certain weather conditions that affect specific areas may make walking more difficult. Examples include:
- Snow storms during New York winters
- Severe thunderstorms during Chicago springs
- Extreme heat during Phoenix summers
Los Angeles is an example of a large U.S. that has pretty good weather conditions year-round, although California as a whole has recently seen unseasonable weather conditions.
Pro: Most Big Cities are Walkable
The largest cities in the U.S. are based on population, not on the size of the actual city. The top four largest cities by area in the U.S. are all located in Alaska, yet none of them have a significant population, except for Anchorage. The largest cities by population that also have a sizable land area are Houston (fourth largest by population, ninth largest by size), Phoenix (sixth largest by population, eleventh largest by size), and San Antonio (seventh largest in population, twelfth largest by size). Cities like New York and Chicago are much smaller in size compared to their large populations.
Con: Big Cities are Walkable Within City Limits
While cities like Chicago are walkable, they’re easier to walk within the actual city limits. This excludes metropolitan areas— which most U.S. cities refer to by the city (proper) name. The top 10 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. include:
- New York City (Newark-Jersey City)
- Los Angeles (Long Beach-Anaheim)
- Chicago (Naperville-Elgin)
- Dallas (Fort Worth-Arlington)
- Houston (The Woodlands-SugarLand)
- Washington D.C. (Arlington-Alexandria)
- Miami (Fort Lauderdale-PompanoBeach)
- Philadelphia (Camden-Wilmington)
- Atlanta (Sandy Springs-Alpharetta)
- Phoenix (Mesa-Chandler)
Many of these metro areas also expand into other states.
Pro: Walking is Healthy
There’s no doubt that walking is beneficial to your health— as long as you’re physically able to do it safely. It’s one of the easiest exercises to do, with a variety of benefits, including:
- Weight loss
- Reduces the risk of developing some cancers
- Eases joint pain
- Boosts immune system
Pairing walking with a nutritious diet and limiting certain behaviors (i.e., smoking tobacco and excessive drinking) will help you see these benefits quicker.
Con: Traffic Accidents are on the Rise
You may think that walking means you’re less likely to be involved in a traffic accident because you’re not using a car, but pedestrian-related accidents have been on the rise all across the country, particularly in Illinois. Illinois isn’t in the top 10 when it comes to states with the most traffic accidents, but traffic accidents of all kinds have been on the rise. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users and suffer the most severe injuries when hit by a motor vehicle.
If you’re injured in a traffic accident as a pedestrian, you can contact a pedestrian accident lawyer (similar to a car accident or personal injury lawyer) in Chicago or any other city you’re injured in. Even though motor vehicles are almost always at fault in these accidents, a lawyer will make sure that insurance companies will pay you all of the money you’re owed.
The bottom line is walking in big cities has a lot of positive impacts, and this can be used in combination with other environmentally friendly methods of transportation, such as biking and driving an electric car. A combination will also allow you to travel during inclement weather (if possible) and travel throughout the metropolitan area of a city.