A friend felt like going for a walk in a nation where cars rule and you do not have the option of walking anywhere! He decided not to drive and instead walked the 15 min route back home. A police car stops over, police man walks out and asks him to make his hands visible and then questions him about what he is doing, where he is going, and WHY he is walking. It took a while to convince the cop about the simple desire to walk home. Once convinced that my friend has not been mugged and is up to no mischief and just wants to walk, the cop drives off shaking his head.
I asked for walking directions to a cycle shop, as I wanted to buy a cycle. The man in the shop told me it is not too far and I set off walking. It took me a good 35-40mins of walking to get to the said shop. A 'bit' of a walk according to the Brits is about a 30 min brisk walk. They walk everywhere. In fact I came across people known as 'fell runners' which means they basically spend time running up and down fells, which are hills. A quick walkable distance is often something 15-20 mins of brisk walking would cover.
Perhaps it is the cost of petrol in the US, or maybe it is the overtly large food portions which makes walking a non-option. But then in UK walking is a pleasurable activity which not even the pathetic weather can ruin. Families walk, walking and trekking shoes are commonly available, and most places are 'walking distance' according to people. Cars are not essential to living, infact I know people who own cars but go to work via public transport - less hassles and faster..especially in London.
I am not surprised at the cultural difference, I am surprised at the extremity of the difference, between walking which raises suspicion of the police and walking as a profession and hobby. In which case I wonder though why most Americans chose to wear running shoes/ sneakers. White ones preferably and the Brits wear high heels all the time!