December 22, 2005

Industrial Santa Clara

There are few sidewalks or footpaths where I work in Santa Clara. It's an industrial part of Silicon Valley that was developed slowly from the late 1950's through to the early 1980's, and in that time and place it was inconceivable that anyone would want to walk anywhere -- only undesirables would need to walk, the rest of us would of course drive. By design, you can't easily get anywhere on foot there without either trespassing, or walking on the busy streets themselves. The town planners seemed to have wanted you to leave yourself open to arrest solely by trying to walk anywhere useful (not that this happens nowadays, at least not in my experience -- too many health-conscious Silicon Valley types being arrested would really present an image problem for a city struggling to attract new-tech businesses). I've actually been stopped and questioned by the local police for walking in a similar sort of place in suburban LA (another part of the world where sidewalks are deliberately missing from the landscape); at least in Santa Clara the police seem to be more concerned with things like red light runners or keeping the peace on El Camino.

I walk to the local sandwich shop every day or two in Santa Clara, a round-trip distance of maybe 2 kilometres. I do it to get some exercise, and because -- being an older industrial area -- it's full of the sort of sights I love: oddly-shaped factories, interesting machinery, railway sidings, weird specialist trucks, etc. Walking to the sandwich shop is an exercise in itself -- again, you can't do it without either walking on the busy four-lane street itself (risking death by passing truck) or without trespassing. I am nearly always the only person on foot I ever see during the walk. My colleagues mostly think I'm nuts for doing this.

But for me the real loons are the people who work in my building and who get in their cars just to cross the road to get to the local Carl's Jr. (a hamburger chain on par with MacDonalds) to pick up hamburgers to eat back in the workplace -- a round-trip journey of maybe 100 metres. That's crazy.

(Part of California).

2 Comments:

At 12/22/2005 12:49 pm, Blogger Phil said...

it's getting that way in australia as well - at least, the attitude of driving everywhere. i'm not fit by any means but getting in a car to go down to the local shops is just plain ridiculous. hey, i still haven't learnt how to drive!

 
At 12/23/2005 10:45 am, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

Yeah -- I couldn't help noticing the last time I was in Sydney that Australians on the whole are getting nearly as fat as Americans :-). And when I start seeing yellow Hummers scattering everything before them on King Street, I'll treat it that as yet another sign of the Apocalypse...

 

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