Spent nearly six hours walking around Leeds today. That is with stops at the chippy, the barber, and the pub, of course. Saw very deprived neighborhoods (heaps of trash on a staircase on an estate in Armley that wouldn’t be out of place in the third world), mixed neighborhoods (the student area, so aptly named Hyde Park, with an AE∏ flag to boot), and posh neighborhoods (lovely houses in Headingley) as well as industrial estates. Which raises the question, do people have to live in a built area for it to be called a “neighborhood”.
During this most extensive and long anticipated urban hike of mine, I thought of a number of rules for exploration. This is assuming a certain amount of time on your hands (and feet) and no specific objective in mind. Like anything, this is a work in progress, and will invariably reflect the location, but for now, here are some guidelines about how to get the most out of freedom as an urban pedestrian.
-Do your research. Have an idea of what it is you want. Also have a sense of where is safe and where isn’t.
-Rely on your bearings. A general sense of the cardinal directions is helpful, as is knowledge of landmarks, and important streets.
-Watching the destination of buses is often the most helpful way of knowing what direction you’re going in. Although, of course you could watch the angle of the sun.
-Never go back the same way you came.
-Avoid using your smart phone to navigate (unless it’s almost dark, and you want to make sure you know where you’re going once it’s dark, and thus not safe to show valuables)
-Take pictures when something interests you and its safe to do so
-Don’t just walk on the same kind of path. Use a mix of trails, big roads, small streets, etc. Just because an area isn’t pedestrian friendly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brave it by foot.
-Be brazen and jaywalk
-If something (A) interests you, move towards it. If something else (B) interests you on your way to A, move towards B instead. If it makes since to return to A after seeing B, then return to A. That is assuming C, D, and E don’t get in your way first.