Global EngagementUC HomeAbout UCUC AcademicsUC AdmissionsUC AthleticsUC GlobalUC HealthUC LibrariesUC ResearchNews


Earth Day Milestone: In Walking to Work, UC Engineer Totals 24,902 Miles

UC transportation engineer John Niehaus uses his feet to reduce his personal carbon footprint. And he’s walked the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference in the process.

Date: 4/19/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826

UC ingot   John Niehaus has been commuting to work at the University of Cincinnati from his Clifton home by foot since he moved from Mt. Airy in January 1999. He is approaching a personal milestone of 24,902 miles — the circumference of the Earth. He projects that he will reach his goal in June.

John Niehaus will soon have walked the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference.
John Niehaus will soon have walked the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference.

“I figured that with parking and everything, walking would be more cost effective. Transportation engineers are multimodal, you know — we don’t just think of cars!” says the 74-year-old Niehaus, an adjunct professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science. “Then I started realizing the other values associated with walking: health, environmental, etc.”

Niehaus points out that his Gaslight-district home is about one and a quarter miles away from UC. “I’ve often methodically kept track of things,” he says. “So I started keeping a record over the years.”

He tracks his distance by measuring his pace and counting his steps, a method quite common in the sciences and engineering.

He had to scale back this year because of problems with sidewalk maintenance along his route, which have been the cause of five injuries along the way.

“I lost 70 miles in a two-week period because of a twisted knee,” he notes. Those miles were a loss not just from a personal standpoint but from an environmental one as well. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that if people didn’t use their cars just two days a week, they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year.

Niehaus admits that sometimes walking can be “kind of a bore unless you have a goal.”

“That’s when I decided to ‘walk around the Earth,’” he says. Niehaus estimates that he will achieve his goal around June 2–4, 2010.

For more tips on how you can reduce your own carbon footprint, check out the U.S. EPA’s “On the Road.”