Saturday, March 31, 2012

This Two-Wheeled Alternate Universe

New signage on an existing underpass

On a comment on a post a few days ago, Craig M. Brandenberg asked what alternate universe I live in, and that's the sort of question which initiates its own background process in my mind which runs on its own for a while until it bubbles up a result.

From science fiction to philosophy, a lot of thought has come out of the concept of the multiverse, none of which, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, we don't know), has yielded either evidence that it's anything more than a mind-blowing idea, or provided for actual travel/shifting/warping from one set of space/time/laws/matter to another. It's a happy thought for me that there could be an infinite number of universes where, for example, the movie "Battlefield Earth" was never made, or that Phoenix had something more than 1% bicycle commuters, but as far as we know at this time (whatever that may mean), this is all we got.

Which is probably why, deep down, I tend to rank "what is" higher than "what could be in [imaginary] alternate universes on the other side of the wormhole," and also above "what garden of forking paths might become in the future." With that perspective, signs catch my attention because they would seem to be explicit indications of what is, or at least, what someone wants us to think is. Which is why, when new signage suddenly appears at an underpass I have been riding through frequently since October 6, 2010, I take notice. Has reality altered? Or, has someone in charge of signage altered their thoughts of what is important here? If so, to what end? What new path is this?

It's the "Charlotte's Web" phenomenon, right? Charlotte spun words in her web over Wilbur's stall, "SOME PIG" the example that sticks in my mind, and the mere presence of the webbed words over the pig altered the perception of those who saw it, to the extent that Charlotte's goal of steering events down a path which did not result in Wilbur's slaughter after the fair was accomplished. E.B. White nailed it, I think.

Typically, when lacking evidence of any sort to support an opinion, I will go into "hopeful optimist" mode, and take this brilliant green spider web hanging over this pig's stall (I mean that in a positive sense, I have an abiding respect for Wilbur's perspective and relationship with the universe) as a sign of things to come. What things? Who knows! More smooth rolling pavement along the canal, perhaps! More standardized signage for cyclists, oh oh oh, I can dream, can't I? A FUTURE UNDERPASS BENEATH SCOTTSDALE AND CAMELBACK ROADS??? pant pant pant

Seen within two minutes of the new underpass signage

Meanwhile, back in the current reality of this universe, it has to suck to be a motor vehicle owner/operator who parks in an iffy spot on a crowded street in an effort to get to a swank happy hour venue rapidly, only to return and find that Your Precious was ramped up, strapped down, and carted off to some empoundment facility, where you can only retrieve it by paying a ruinous fee. Which I am somewhat neutral on, since around here anyway the odds of my bicycle experiencing some similar removal appear vanishingly slim, although I realize that bicycle removal by authorities for various perceived parking infractions does occur in some cities, typically those with more bicycles than we have here. On another hand, with city revenues continuing to plummet, I don't know why a city seeking additional funding sources wouldn't make parking in the bike lane an instantly towable offense, and charge ruinous retrieval fees. That would be a SOME PIG type deal for me.

Speaking of parking, and towing...



  1. Now that the 7th Ave underpass is finished, we're all living in the same universe these days. And my commute to and from work has increased a few notches on the convenience scale.

    By the way, I enjoy looking at your photos and trying to recognize its location before reading the caption or surrounding text. So far my success rate is low, which means I should better get to know my Valley-area bike infrastructure.

    1. Phoenix (and the surrounding cities) have so much to offer at the street level, bicycle observer level, that a block by block systematic grid search would not be out of the question. The more I ride, the more I see, and the more I see, the more I want to ride...


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