Comment of the Day Runner-Up: It’s Too Muggy To Walk Here

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: IT’S TOO MUGGY TO WALK HERE “IMO people in Houston do not walk as much as they do in other cities. I have a friend who lives at West Ave and drives to Whole foods across the street, stuff like that. This is why Houston hasn’t had more ground floor retail in the past and we require 2375646523 parking spaces per 200 unit apt complex. Now everyone blames the heat for not walking, but I blame it on laziness and crime. If you build a walker friendly area that is safe like on west gray or west ave then people will come.” [benny, commenting on Comment of the Day: Would Ground Floor Retail Work in the Rice Village?] Illustration: Lulu

45 Comment

  • That’s why there are so many overweight people in Houston, from the suburbs specifically. You spend all that time in the car usually with snacks to get you through that hour commute in the 100 degree heat, by the time you get home you’re crashing from that sugar rush and the exhaustion of driving an hour in bumper to bumper traffic under the sweltering Texas sun. When I go to HEB in pearland I always see so many fat people compared when I go to central market or whole foods in the loop.

  • It’s not laziness and crime, it IS heat and humidity. If you’re going to a business meeting in a suit, you can’t arrive drenched and reeking like a hippie. If you’re going to a grocery store, then why haul bags of groceries all the way back home when you can pile them in the trunk. Most people also have better things to do than to go to a grocery store every day to bring one or two bags at a time. It’s the Houston life stile and is very convenient compared to NY where you HAVE to walk not because you WANT to walk.

  • #1, so true. The difference is startling and a very ominous sign

  • In my opinion, there is only a month or two in Houston where it is too hot/humid to walk or bike. I am a rare Houstonian that doesn’t drive, and I get around by foot or bike quite comfortably about 85% of the time.

    I lived in Chicago previously where walking/biking is commonplace, even in extreme weather (heat and cold). Often that is because driving/parking can be a nightmare in Chicago and just the cost of owning a car in the city can be prohibitive. Jumping in your car can take twice as long as walking or taking public transit.

    Compare that to Houston where it is much more convenient/affordable to drive, park and get around. This likely contributes to people having a driving habit, rather than a walking one.

    I also think that many sidewalks in the city need to be more pedestrian-friendly, safer, cleaner and consistent. It is odd how sometimes they end abruptly! They don’t stop me from walking or biking, but it would make my life a lot easier!

  • Heat/humidity are not excuses for a non-walkable neighborhood. Using that excuse is a cop-out. I see on the map there are many cities in latitudes between the equator and us throughout the world. Considering that on the southern hemisphere we have another set to work with. There is about 60 degrees worth of latitude that, in general, have more severe hot weather and humidity that good ole’ Houston, TX. Looking at the GDP’s of individual cities, I see a lot of cities that have significantly larger GDPs and are fundamentally walkable.

    Using the excuse, “the weather” is the reason walkable neighborhoods don’t work in Houston is a cop out and most definitly falsehood. Worried about perspiration while you walk 2 city blocks in a suit? — Its called anti-perspirant deodorant. Pretty sure thats been around for over half a century. Ask new yorkers who are waiting on the subway station that’s not air conditioned what they do in 100 degree weather.

  • Absolutely ridiculous. How many people spent some time outside this past weekend? It is HOT and HUMID. Just standing still outside you will sweat… forget the walking part. Deodorant will prevent you from smelling bad but won’t prevent your entire body from sweating.

  • As a former pro triathlete, I can say without question that Houstonians are fat as hell for a reason, it’s not just all the Mexican restaurants and the fact people will drive 10 feet so as not to have to walk, it’s just the laziness, I mean, so it’s humid! or hot, so what!–I lived in L.A. for 12 years and it gets hot there as well, but people get out and run and exercise, it’s a culture of health, I lived in Dallas as well and Austin and it’s hot as hell there, but they don’t bitch half as much as Houstonians–I was born in New Orleans and it’s extremely humid and even they don’t bitch like Houstonians–people always stop me and ask how I stay so ripped and I’m like, I walk, I run, I workout, I don’t valet park, I take the stairs!–people go on and on about how f#xking fat they are as they valet park, drive everywhere and bitch that it’s too hot to set foot outside as if the humidity is like some Chimera that will suck the life out of them if they set one toe outdoors –or break a sweat–laziness thy name is fat ass Houston

  • Purdueenginerd- The difference between us and them is we have cars with AC and they don’t. They don’t have a choice, we do. :)

  • No question it’s uncomfortable from say late May to mid-Sept. (at least in the afternoon), but does that trump the rest of the year?

    Parking in the urban core is going to become more of a hassle as population and activity continues to densify…you may end up walking more even if you don’t want to.

  • Worried about perspiration while you walk 2 city blocks in a suit? — Its called anti-perspirant deodorant.

    I’m just imagining the delicate, time-consuming process by which purdueenginerd applies antiperspirant to his entire body daily.

  • There is a reason they built the 8th wonder of the world here in Houston. It is hot and humid!

  • Its too hot to do anything out side from May to Oct. If you wanna sweat to death and lug your bags of groceries home, or two 40 pounds of dirt and paint cans from a Home Depot run, good for you.

  • Shannon — were you running your tenth lap at memorial park yesterday at 3:30? Because I stopped someone to ask them how they stay so ripped and also asked why LA, Dallas, and Austin are so much better than Houston, and I think it may have been you. . . .

  • @Purdueenginerd
    “…Looking at the GDP’s of individual cities, I see a lot of cities that have significantly larger GDPs and are fundamentally walkable. …”

    Pffft! A lot of cities? Name one. Name one city which has more hot-humid summers than Houston with a higher GDP (GMP)/capita and is “walkable”.

    Bonus points if it’s not a city state or crowded onto a tiny island (e.g., Singapore or Hong Kong, which appear to actually have lower GDP/capita than Houston).

    Is Doha the undiscovered walker’s paradise?

  • @jason c

    Ha! Well played

  • I find it odd that people like…
    Mother Hydra
    all think that they know better than other people’s motives and intentions than those people do themselves.

    People say that it’s too hot and humid to walk around town in August in Houston? Well, these Swamplotters know better. They know it’s really because those people are lazy to the core, even though Houston has had a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the nation the last several years (despite very rapid population growth).

    Oh, and also because fat. Or something.

    But I guess this is to be expected from a site where so many just want to make other people suffer so that their version of utopia can be realized.

    Not only do some people know what’s best for you (and want to see you suffer in order that their dreams be fully implemented), they seem to be able to read your mind as well.

  • @commonsense: Unless you carry an air conditioned bubble, or have an air conditioned parking spot wherever you go, at some point you have to walk thru the heat and humidity in your suit, or what I consider worse is sit in your 110 degree-plus car and sweat thru your clothes while your car is cooling off. For any walking distances of 20 minutes or less, I would say that the 5 to 10 minutes of an equivalent car trip (assuming door to door time) will expose you to greater heat and humidity. At least when you are walking the air can circulate around you, and your skin won’t blister when it touches your blazing seat bely buckle.

  • I also disagree that laziness is the reason people don’t walk more. I chalk it up to lack of walking experience (or ignorance, if you want to choose another word). Many of us who moved here grew up in areas where walking was not uncommon, sidewalks were maintained, and grew up at time where parents felt no hesitation in allowing their 2nd grade latch-key kid to walk alone to and from school. I would venture to guess that 98% of native Houstonians lack that experience, as do the majority of transplants from rural/suburban/exurban areas. In Houston, I often walked the 0.4 miles to my local YMCA, and saw my neighbor there who insisted on driving his van to the Y (all year round) in order to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I couldn’t call the guy lazy, but he absolutely would never walk for whatever imagined reason that inexperienced walkers (98% of Houstonians)dreamed of (bad/no sidewalk, dangerous people, dangerous cars, etc)that could happen along major suburban Houston streets. FYI I often nearly beat his van to the Y as he got stuck at the 1 traffic light, or waited for lines of traffic to allow him to make a left into the parking lot along Highway 3. I also witnessed several accidents over the years as cars attempted to turn into or out of the parking lot. Other than staying alert for people not stopping or looking for pedestrians when performing a right-on-red, I had no issues in several years of walking.

  • @BenP, not sure what cars you’re driving but the car’s A/C has not had to “cool down” for more than 15 seconds in over a decade. Walking from your house door to your driveway and from the parking garage to the lobby of an office building exposes you only to a couple of minutes of said heat and humidity.

  • Los Angeles is nowhere near as hot as Houston. I too have lived in Austin and Dallas. Most people that live in Austin and Dallas think of Houston as a hot and humid place, which it is. I occasionally pump gas at 7am in the morning during the summer on the way to work with the sun beating down on me. Needless to say, I start sweating immediately. By the way, I’m a three time gold medalist in the Summer Olympics. I should know. This nonsense about people walking to the grocery store in Houston in the summer is a joke. If I see any one you doing that, I’m steering clear of your foul smelling butts.

  • I too am disgusted by the lack of interest Houstonians have in walking during the usually great weather 9 months of the year. However, I really don’t think this is just a Houston problem. Outside of NYC, Boston, DC, SF, and what amount to relatively small fractions of Chicago, Austin, San Diego, and Seattle where have all of you been living where the MAJORITY of people who can afford to drive decide to walk instead of drive. Look at the massive suburban sprawls that now pretty much surround even smaller cities. They are reflective of what people want to do, not the reason people are forced to walk. If driving was made to be more expensive (as it is in Europe) and less convenient (as it is in NYC), then people would change their habits in the long term. As it is, Houston is very cheap and convenient to drive in and like other sunbelt cities the brief intense heat and humidity makes the tipping point between driving and walking that much further apart.

  • As a twelve-time Olympic gold medalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who runs marathons in my spare time and travels the quarter-mile between my home and office by private jet, I completely agree that it is too humid and dangerous in Pearland to sustain street-level suit stores that are only open from May to October. Why, even a baby could understand that.

  • “Absolutely ridiculous. How many people spent some time outside this past weekend? It is HOT and HUMID.”

    This is great! Half of the responses are from the fatties attempting to use the weather to justify their slovenly habits, and the other half are calling them out.

    Oh, the answer to the above question is that I rode my bike 50 miles on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I took Sunday off to clean out the garage and work in the yard. But, I agree that, prior to losing that 15 pounds, I thought it was pretty hot and humid.

    Oh, one other thing. I see lots of people out in the parks while I am biking. Not everyone in Houston is a fattie…just the ones complaining on Swamplot.

  • What would an Olympic medalist know about hot and humid Houston? We’ve never had an Olympics. Oh, and I lived in Dallas for 8 years. It is worse there. Maybe not a lot worse, but it is worse.

  • Driving across the street to the Whole Foods may be as much about being able to haul your groceries home as anything else.

    But yes, it’s a lifestyle thing. We’re just people of the automobile. The heat and humidity is an excuse and not a very good one.

  • Swamplot…. you crack me up. Shannon I agree with you. Laziness is the main reason. I lived in Arlington VA for a summer and worked in DC Metro. It was HOT & HUMID on the banks on the Potomac. I lost 22 lbs in three months walking 4+ miles a day. Offices had showers and lockers for some employees who wanted to bring their work clothes and change if needed.

    Before that I lived in Barcelona for a project for sux months summer to fall. Same thing, it was hot. You make it work. In more urban environments it is common place. Houstonians just have a aversion to walking. Heat or no. No wonder we’ve been labeled the FATEST city in America. I live, work and recreate in the Montrose, Houston’s most urban neighborhood, by choice.

    This way I can feel like I’m in a 21st century city. That is the only it will ever come close to being a dense metropolis. It would be interesting to know what our city’s people/square mile is.

  • What good weather in Houston? I’ve lived here over 20 years and there’s maybe two weeks in the spring and two weeks in the fall that you can be comfortable outside, every other day it’s unbearably hot or raining.
    PS, I ride the MS150, so it’s not a laziness issue.

  • Houston: 3,200+/- per square mile

    Arlington: 8,500+/- per square mile

    Barcelona: 40,700+/- per square mile

    Go figure….

  • If only Doc could get his hands on another Delorian and flex-capacitor, then we could go back in time and un-invent the automobile, and then today’s Houstonians would be the most fit people in the country. Of course, then there would be no Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons would rule the world. . . .

  • My hypothesis is that people’s willingness to exercise or just get outside correlates with how naturally beautiful a place is. Since this part of the Earth doesn’t have the aesthetics as, say, the Pacific NW, it might be simply human nature to let idleness set in. Naturally, there’s a strident minority who see fitness of mind & body as essential and who act this out no matter in what geography they find themselves. We Houstonians would do well for ourselves as well as our sense of community if we fight the outcomes that happen when creature comforts run rampant with brainwashing consumer habits.

  • When my wife and I first moved to Houston she didn’t have a job (moved for mine) and we only had one car, so she walked a fair amount. Without fail whenever she walked someplace she would get catcalled by at least one car full of young men. That can’t help.

  • Not an endorsement to drive, but I thought this was interesting and somewhat tangentially related to what we were talking about. Drunk walking deaths

  • Dave- I’ve also lived in Dallas, and other dry and hot climate cities and other humid and hot cities. Dallas summer is like a beautiful spring day in Houston. The summers here are miserable. Completely miserable. The rest of the year in Houston is wonderful.

  • Tony, I believe there is merit to your statement. And, though Houston is historically not a very naturally attractive city, the last 5-10 years have seen a sea change in attitudes as well as action on Houston parks, bayous and trails. I highly recommend checking out the parks and bike trails. You will be amazed what is out there. You may even be inclined to exercise.

    To commonsense, who believes only 4 weeks of Houston is habitable, I might point out that from November 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013 only 5 days reached 90 degrees, and no days reached higher than 91. And only a few days dropped below freezing, either.

  • Well, yesterday evening I walked to the train, walked to go pick the kid up, and then walked home. The horror! Imagine–my husband even allowed me to enter the house. And hugged me.
    Of course, I do this somewhat to prove that I can/ talk the talk. I’ve lived in more densely populated cities–and walking there is simply a way of life. Guess what? It gets hot & humid just about everywhere. It’s all a matter of world view. I like public transportation. I like getting places on foot. This might not be the best place to do it, but if no one tries, it will never come to be.

  • @Dave, 90 degrees IS unbearably hot and from November to March it generally rains. And on any day that an hour in the morning might give a glimpse of hope, it’s over 100 by early afternoon.

  • “If only Doc could get his hands on another Delorian and flex-capacitor, then we could go back in time and un-invent the automobile…”

    The problem with this plan is that if you un-invent the automobile, then there is no such thing as a Delorian to make a time machine out of.

    Think about that too long and your brain turns into a moebius strip.

  • @Dave

    Personally, the distance I will tolerate walking is inversely proportional to the heat index. Generally, with sensible clothing in Houston on a working day:

  • Let’s face what is; Houston will never be a walkable city no matter how many spiffy sidewalks and urbanesque stylings are built. The reason is that we’ve become domesticated. Our natural ancestors are the primates, which live in the tropics where fresh green food is abundant. I’ve found that the more fresh greens I eat, the easier it is to tolerate the heat and humidity. We’re so far out of touch with our natural selves. Sweating is healthy too and becomes offensive when the diet isn’t in line with our original blueprint (an observation and a belief). So…fuhgedaboudit. As long as people prefer to adapt the environment to themselves and not themselves to the environment, cars will rule in Houston.

  • How much does a locker room build out cost in an office? In terms of initial setup and lost space, I’d guess quite a lot.

    I’ve mused at the notion of a cycling commute from the ‘burbs. the 60 mile round trip with sprints through the hood would have me near pro level fitness, though the time required and exhaustion at either terminus is likely prohibitive notwithstanding the presence or absence of showers and clothes.

  • “@Dave, 90 degrees IS unbearably hot and from November to March it generally rains. And on any day that an hour in the morning might give a glimpse of hope, it’s over 100 by early afternoon.”

    Wow. Your weather tolerance threshold is unbelievable. I do not expect you go camping, and I doubt you do well after hurricanes. Where I brag about how I can tough it out, you appear to be one who brags about needing a nice hotel room. I will concede that you cannot handle Houston weather. Congrats.

  • Very interesting that part of my comment got deleted. Sorry about that.


    Personally, the distance I will tolerate walking is inversely proportional to the heat index. Generally, with sensible clothing in Houston on a working day these are the maximum distances I would normally tolerate at each heat index value:

  • @nate99

    Agreed. Whenever I hear of someone who bike commutes from Katy to downtown and tries to make it sound reasonable by saying “well, but my company has shower facilities”, I have to laugh. I also have to wonder if they actually work for a living, have chores to do around the house, and have a family of some kind. Most commuters have one or more of the above.

    Sure, I can and do bike the distance on the weekend, but we’re talking about doing this as a part of one’s daily routine (walking or biking). There’s a reason most people don’t do this in Houston and it’s not laziness, excess body fat, or some other moral failing. It’s because of heat–>sweat–>body odor.

  • @Dana-X (#39)

    You’re absolutely right that we are unfamiliar with the lifestyles of our recent ancestors. That just means that only psychological barriers are stopping us from the physical activity we are adapted for, not physiological ones. Our ancestors chased down prey over miles, we just need to wrap our heads around those abilities:

    Like you pointed out with vegetables, getting in touch with those habits actually feels pretty good.

  • @eiioi: don’t use the less-than sign, or escape it as <