Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Smooth as a Baby's Butt...

(Not that I have any personal experience with babies or their butts. One hopes, however, that their butts live up to the smoothness fabled in story and song...)

...Pavement, That Is

Last weekend, my sister and I went to have lunch with the Units (parental units). As we turned onto the freeway, sis exclaimed, "Oooo, new pavement. They haven't even painted the lines yet."

Which reminded me of this blog I've been meaning to write.

The Ground Beneath my Wheels (not to be confused with the wind beneath my wings)

Since I spend approximately 10 hours a day in my wheelchair -- from leaving my house in the morning to get on the light rail to begin my commute, to the return trip in the evening -- in any given day I experience driving over a wide variety of surfaces:

  • asphalt (blacktop)
  • concrete
  • bricks (decorative and regular)
  • decomposed granite
  • dirt
  • low pile carpet
  • wood flooring
  • vinyl or linoleum
  • polished stone (as you will find in some shopping malls)
  • sand or gravel (rarely)
  • decorative concrete (you know, the kind that has little rocks mixed in -- medium bumpy)

I have solid inserts in my tires because I don't want to have to deal with getting a flat, so my ride is a little bumpier than it would be if I had air in the tires. The tradeoff of no flats is more than worth it. (Some people who have disabilities which make them more sensitive to the jarring of the ride can't really take advantage of this no-flat option.)

Sidewalks -- Repaired and Not -- The Bad Patch

At the beginning of the summer, some bureaucratic body (I don't know who has jurisdiction over this stretch of sidewalk) finally repaired a stretch of sidewalk that has been problematic for as long as I have used it, which is about 10 years.

It is on the route to downtown from Ivy West University, as well as from either downtown or IWU to the train station. The sidewalk was rendered dangerously uneven by tree roots, displacing slabs of concrete a good six inches up and then down again. It had been patched -- badly -- with some laying on of asphalt some time back. It was far worse than crossing the train tracks, which I have to do several times a day.

Go, Speed Racer

When I am coming from work to catch the train, I am going full-out in my chair (around 5 mph), allowing for traffic, bicycles, pedestrians and pavement quality. When I came to TBP, I would come to a full stop, and then ease over the displaced sidewalk. Now that it is repaired, I don't even slow down until I reach the pedestrian tunnel -- where there is a 2 inch bump where the sidewalk transitions into the tunnel. It is as smooth as a baby's butt. And, since I'm unaccustomed to it as yet, it gives me a little thrill of pleasure every time I go that route.

It's the little -- and, one hopes, smooth -- things in life.

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