Is it more efficient to walk in a staircase-like pattern, or “down and across”?


I live in a city and, like most cities, it’s pretty much a grid. My daily destination is the exact opposite location of where I live. I was interested in knowing which method of walking will save me the most time, or if it matters at all?

In: Other

Distance should be pretty much the same in this scenario, I think the main difference in time would be the crossings and how busy each route is at the time that you use it

Depends on the traffic of said streets. Either way distance traveled is the same. Everything else being equal, “Down and across” will save you time from less turns.

It doesn’t matter.

What you are talking about is called the [Manhattan Distance]( — also known as [Taxicab Geometry](

If you can only walk on grid lines, then it does not matter if you follow a zigzag pattern or all-the-way-down-then-all-the-way-across.

In practice, not all grid lines are the same. You should choose the path that is the easiest for walking — crosswalks that are less crowded and street crossings that don’t have long red lights.

As far as down and across versus over up over up – exactly the same distance assuming a perfect grid.

Not accounting for any time you’re NOT walking (Such as waiting at a street corner which may or may not be predictable), whatever gives you the shortest distance. e.g. the closest to a straight line as is possible is fastest. So if there’s for example, a park you can cut through diagonally that will save you time. Given a perfect grid with none of these opportunities – doesn’t matter.

If you start with a staircase, you can go whichever direction has a walk signal. That can cut quite a bit of time.