Tonight I decided to borrow my mom's car to attend a lecture on the need for a renewed commitment to public health in urban planning (revel with me in the pile of irony) at UC Irvine. It was about 6:30 pm as I made my way north on the 5 and then the 405 freeways. The first thing I noticed as I accelerated up to freeway speed was a giant SUV of domestic make hiked up on massive tires. The second thing I noticed was the sweat gathering between my palms and the steering wheel.
People kept jerking around in their cars, maybe distracted by cell phones? I could see a clear connection between bodies and machines as the cars veered across lines and then jerked back into place. Sadly it was a connection that further alienated those bodies from their environments, and I tried to remember that I've been driving this stretch of highway since I came of age. That didn't really make me feel safer.
On the way back from the lecture I saw a large, matte black SUV changing lanes willy nilly, and it made me think of fixie riders who dart between other road users like they're fixed objects. Here was a street, scaled up in size and speed, with similar dynamics enabled by our culture's belief in dominating rather than sharing roads.
I know South Orange County seems desirable to millions. Do they overlook the time spent dodging others on freeways, or is that part of what they love?
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Driving in Someone Else's Paradise
Posted by urbanadonia at 9:17 PM
Labels: Anthropology, Orange County, Urban Space