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Friday, January 20, 2006

Cycle Killer

I live in an urban area, so you would think I would have an easier time getting around via pedestrian or bike power. Well, yes and no. I certainly have a number of roads to use and choose from; however, I run into enough man-made and natural obstacles to make navigation more difficult than it ordinarily should.

I plotted out the "fence" pattern I have to deal with in my several square mile vicinity in the annotated map below. Note that the star marks my home-base and the heavy white lines indicate fence-lines, with safe crossing points indicated by hashed gate markers.

It turns into a bit of a maze as nothing amounts to a straight-line shot unless I go directly south (forget about going west easily). Even though we have lots of streets, nothing becomes convenient if you can't navigate through the forbidden areas. The obstacles include freeways, creeks, rivers, railroad lines, golf courses, lakes, reservoirs, and stockyards. And then you get these hand-crafted zig-zaggy residential neighborhoods filled with cul-de-sacs, ostensibly designed to prevent undesirable from easily passing through. Including kids going to school, who in the end have no other choice but to take a bus.

I find it amazing how a supposedly mobile culture locks itself into such a rigid structure, with only the car disguising this fact. Able to compress both time and space by shortening perceived distances traveled, by spending our time driving we end up not noticing the barbed wire surrounding us. Alas, on a bike I see it all and want to strangle our short-sighted urban planners.


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