Let’s take this moment to pause at the end of a hot and incredibly dusty Summer of 2010, and consider the street-level human effects of the much vaunted Economic Recovery Plans on the state of our roads, and the resulting effects on our quality of life, both on and around them. At this point, our roads are clearly showing the ill-effects of being ravaged by all the government infrastructure stimulus projects of the past two years. Yet even under the duress of dealing with snarled traffic, and weaving and bouncing across a riding surface that now looks more like moon-rock than pavement, we’ve still seen some deeply encouraging signs of average People rising above these circumstances, and sharing experiences that provide us all hope for an ever evolving and improving Urban Experience. Even if our urban lives are still currently under the siege from the seemingly endless rounds of construction.
So let’s rundown a categorized list of surprisingly positive side-effects to having our roads torn up from underneath us, and then barely put back together again as road crews and contractors run off to milk their next cash-cow. Let’s starting with a blossoming new trend in Urban Art, and then touching on another paint-related development that has given us a very subtle yet powerful hint…at how the Future is shaping up.
So here are your options….
While cars may be able to roll over all but the worst potholes, Cyclists are left to feel and contend with each one at their own personal peril, and we adapt to this challenge like any other with skill and heads-up sense of humble self-preservation. Cyclists are however fortunate to not have to feel the frustrations of commuting on clogged highways and getting stuck on impassable roads. I think that by rolling with these challenges that our psyches and self-image is subconsciously reinforced with the knowledge that we’re indeed using the most future proof and adaptable form of urban transport…and that we’re on the right path, no matter how ravaged it might be right now
We’re actually starting to see signs of cultural change as well…Where cycling is creeping into the artistic landscape, via paintings and stenciling on our street surfaces! Not only does this signal a new trend in Cyclists communicating to each other via street markings, this is also a subtle yet deep-rooted foundation for a larger sense of Community and social relevance for Cyclists everywhere. An especially fascinating new development in street art is this safety initiative in Vancouver which you should pop-open to see for yourself, after you finish reading here.
While the value of those “Sharrows” remains debatable, we’ve seen a more grassroots version of lane markings emerging as well. The Urban Repair Squad has been tagging nasty potholes, which raise their visibility for Riders as well as City Workers. The new 311 Service also offers a streamlined route to reporting potholes, so by having these hazards pre-marked, other people can more easily spot them and place the repeated calls that will result in the highest priority given to the most obvious problems.
Also worth noting is that at least one Mayoral candidate is trying to capitalize of the frustrations of Residents, Business Owners, and Commuters by promising more accountability from construction companies and City Managers that allow projects to go over-schedule, and assuring that other forms of logistical planning are in place assure minimal disruptions.
The other intriguing development to come out of all this roadwork this past Summer was a rather unknown mini-crisis from a looming shortage of road paint. You know…That thick reflective stuff that draws the line between ordered chaos, and outright anarchic bedlam!
What this issue did raise was both a visibility for the business issues behind the manufacture of road paint during a time of enormous government spending, as well as providing us an opportunity to consider the enormous future impact of a special little reflective chemical compound called Titanium Dioxide…Which is set to become an even more critically important factor in some very futuristic forms of Technology and Industry!
CLICK to SEE: TiO2 A Rising Star