Last weekend I went to visit a friend. With the nice weather we took a walk around the suburban neighborhood. For some reason we avoided the sidewalks and just walked utility rights of way and fence lines and paths through empty lots. When we returned my friend remarked that we had walked an hour and a half and "..never had to deal with cars." Out there in the DC suburbs there seems to be a whole network of unofficial foot trails connecting everything- overlaid on the official paved roads and paths. I checked google earth today and much of our route wasn't visible. You couldn't guess where the fence holes are and most of the paths weren't visible. It got me thinking that there may be more walkers out there than I notice from the saddle of a bike. They might be shunning the crappy paved walking environment provided by the urban planners for these unofficial tracks.
Sometimes I think that the urban planners shouldn't install their cutesy paved paths and horrid sidewalks. They should just look where people walk and then if they have to do something remove tripping hazards and slippery mudbanks and maybe put in a porous surface that lets water drain to the soil, but do it where people actually walk - where the grass is trod down.
Long Distance Cyclist
That's what they did in Winnipeg ... there was a path along the river for years. Just a dirt track where people had chosen to walk. Then just before I moved there, they paved it.
I try to do that when I went running up north. I try to run on asphalt or cement as little as possible to keep my joints healthy and I always enjoyed the thrill of finding obscure little paths. Every little patch of green between the buildings had myriad trails to explore. That hasn't been an option in New Orleans. Most everywhere is either paved (poorly) or under water here.