Even though gas prices are dipping a little in my area the local media and pretty much every personal finance blog online are still extolling the virtues of walking or biking to work. It seems simple enough; dust off your bike or sneakers, grab a backpack and hit the road. Right?
If you're encumbered by urban sprawl this may not help you out much but if you live in a city of one-way streets, which the walking directions ignore, this may be the best article you've read all week. Google just rolled out a new beta feature to Google Maps which allows you to use the service to get walking directions, no matter the distance. It also avoids areas typically restricted to foot traffic such as interstates and other highways.
Even though it is interesting to see how Google thinks I should walk the 20 miles to work, when I ask for realistic directions to my barber's shop I am shown a much different route than I would normally take in my car in order to avoid crossing a few bigger and heavily trafficked intersections. Another nice feature is that Google estimates the time to cover the distance, so you can even plan out your departure time. Google expects me to cover about a mile every 20 minutes.
One of my pet peeves when reading advice on how to save money is to get a bit of advice without being empowered to actually make use of it. These new feature should help you find a way to add walking into your busy life. Walking to your weekend barbecue or to pick up groceries this month is a great way to save money and get healthier. Make sure you head Google's warning and "use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas", since the service doesn't appear to alert you to areas with frequent muggings. To use this feature, just select "walking" from the drop down box that appears below your destination.
Walking directions from Google makes foot travel easier