|My road bike, enjoying the Seventh Avenue Streetscape|
I needed a change of pace today to take my mind off the heat. So I tuned up the road bike, tried to remember how to maintain a higher cadence, and headed along the Grand Canal in Phoenix to go see the current series of art on display at the Seventh Avenue Streetscape. Every so often, approximately yearly now, it looks like, they swap new art into the light boxes that sit under the shade structures near the seating areas. Art, seating, shade: that seems like a formula that bears repeating. It may seem obvious that simple combinations of elements can change a barren cement zone into a livable place people might use, but usability must not be as obvious as it may seem.
I'll put the freeway pedestrian overpass picture below just because I think it's interesting to look at and think about. It's pretty usable.
|Passing over Highway 51 is a switchback exercise. How's your bike handling and broken glass avoidance?|
I really want to show you the gates along the Grand Canal that are meant to exclude unauthorized vehicles, but--I don't even know how to ask such an obvious question. What the hell were they thinking when they installed these on a multi-use path? They couldn't have been thinking much about usability or what people need, I conclude.
|First gate: everyone ride or walk through the dirt or mud, now! Completely unnecessary, as you'll see.|
|Second gate--are you kidding me? Everyone, swerve over through the dirt, next to the canal. Look at the beautiful smooth surface of that path! Look how screwed up that gate is!|
|Third gate: OK now you guys are just screwing around with me. Is there a hidden camera? The first step is to admit that you have a problem.|
|Ha ha! No logical, usable bicycle-admitting gate for you! Back to swerving through the bushes, two wheeler! That is a nice bridge to connect with the neighborhood, anyway.|
|The first piece I came across at 7th Ave and Glenrosa Ave, a poem by Kathleen Winter|
|On the reverse side of the poem above is this|
|This gives an idea what this little art/poetry oasis looks like|
|Phoenix Light Rail, zipping past the Grand Canal on Central Avenue. Good thing they didn't build gates for it to swerve around.|
|This is a sign on a marked route that runs down the spine of Phoenix, about 40 miles long|
The road bike spinning along smooth asphalt on a hot summer day is nearly silent. That feeling of simple, effective, tuned-up usability may place unreasonable expectations for my fellow human beings into my head. I see a shady oasis of art and poetry on a city street and my hopes rise. I see gates like the series above that appear willfully unusable, and my hopes fall a little. On thing always gives me a recharge, though. It never fails. Get up. Go ride.