Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tiger Pit

My wife and I went out for New Year's Eve. We walked over to Blair Plaza for dinner at Oriental East. We lived in Blair Plaza Apartments (just across the parking lot) for three years when the kids were both toddlers. I took the kids for lunch at Oriental East most Wednesdays for a year or more. Going back is nostalgic. It reminds us of good times and is a place for a subdued celebration - a not-too-extravagant treat.

All we have to do is walk there.

We walk at a good clip. When people visit - people who normally drive everywhere they go - they usually have some trouble keeping pace.My Mother complained that we were moving too fast for her last time that she visited, and we were constantly putting on the brakes so that she could stay with us. Pedestrians can be very similar to drivers when they "zone out." Walking has a rhythm, left, right, left. This repetition can produce a kind of trance that allows the Walker's mind to wander - not thinking about each and every step, but getting into the rhythm.

A sytem that requires the pedestrian to think about each and every step is not a system at all.

As we made our way down the street I stopped to take these photos.

They show an almost perfectly designed trap.

The street light is mounted on the pole on the opposite side of the hole in the ground. The hole is located by design where you expect people to walk. In other words; the pole was removed in order to make this place accessible to feet. The shadow of the pole from the light falls directly onto the hole. It sounds like some sort of sick nursery rhyme;

"The Shadow from the pole falls on the hole..."

I am OK because I know they are there. Another cruel design in this trap is that not all of the poles have been removed. so between weaving and hopping, there isn't much chance for rhythm. The University of Maryland football team could train their running backs by having them run down the south side of Sligo Avenue. The sidewalks here are like an obstacle course, but more menacing. The only thing missing from these holes are the sharpened spikes smeared with feces. Barbed wire might be a nice touch.

Oh, and just to be sure it works, lets leave them there for a week. Just to be sure.

And then people wonder why pedestrians are always ignoring the rules and walking in the street. If you really want to know the answer to that question, park your car for a week and try to get where you're going on foot.

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