Sometimes (let's be honest, often) it takes a visitor to tell you something useful about your home city. So just as Ann and I were getting ready for a walk along the Regent's canaI I was interested to find What would walking do for your carbon footprint and your waistline? from Ewan McIntosh. He extolls the virtue of the London Underground (hmm, sometimes) but says it is often quicker to walk:
I've been spending a fair bit of time in London of late and, while I love the city, I've been facing the same conundrum I had while living in Paris: when is it better just to walk between points instead of taking the Underground?
The London Underground is superb (well, for a tourist it's very practical and there's no snob factor in terms of who uses it, like you find in the Paris metro). But often, where a trip between Embankment and Convent Garden would require a change and lots of steps, for example, a walk would get you there quicker (which TFL already lets you know), in a more pleasant atmosphere and in a way which impacts less on the environment.
Walkit.com, another discovery from Mike at the Edinburgh Coffee Morn, lets you see what route would be most interesting for your to take, tells you how many calories you'll burn and how much less your carbon footprint will be. It's just superb.
Walkit will give you a route between any postcode or street name, with calories burned and CO2 emissions saved. Today we were late starting, so took the bus from home, near Smithfield in the City, to the Angel Islington. We could have walked (fast) in 18 minutes along this route avoiding 0.12 kg of CO2 generated (for comparison, a car ride would have been 0.41kg, though we don't have one). But more likely 35 minutes slowly. We then walked along the canal to Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets, rather than this quicker but less scenic route offered by Walkit. I think the 159 calories calculated by Walkit were more than covered by the sandwiches.
It was a brilliant walk, enlivened by a bit of jossling between walkers, dogs, buggies and cyclists taking not much notice of the instructions to proceed safely. There was even a canal boat passing through one of the locks, demonstrating it is still navigable. The canal was build in the early 19th century to carry cargo from the Thames docks at Limehouse around to Paddington in west London. The cost came in at £772,000, twice the original estimate of expenditure. The original promoter, Thomas Homer, was sentenced to transportation for embezzlement before completion.
These days the towpath is used more than the canal, although there are some house boats moored and some leisure traffic. One (small one) on offer for £10,000, if you are tempted, but high maintenance I should think. Another day I'll take more time and photos, maybe adding to those here, and research a few more encouraging aids like Walkit. Thanks Ewan, but we took the Underground back from Bethnal Green to St Paul's. The 89 calorie burn wasn't quite tempting enough.