Thursday, September 17, 2015

Urban Obstacle Course

My one-mile walk to Metro in the afternoon is a study in pedestrian behavior. I became interested in this when I lived in New York, where a rush-hour stroll down Fifth Avenue can be an exercise in start-and-stop frustration.

There are fewer people on D.C. streets but sidewalks can be narrower and walkers slower. So at 5:30 p.m. I must still employ some of the skills I learned in New York: looking for openings in a crowd, gauging the approach of the walker ahead of me, looking down at crucial moments so as not to engage in one of those awkward dances where no one knows whether to go left or right.

If everything works according to plan, I can make it from my office to Metro Center in the same time it would take on the subway.  This produces a lot of satisfaction, some welcome weariness and a renewed appreciation of pedestrian flow.

It's an urban obstacle course, completed for the day.

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