Connectivity and Class

While in London, we live here . As you can see this Council Estate (Ranelagh Estate) was constructed in the 1950s as a cul-de-sac at the end of Sefton Street. To the north are playing fields in Barnes, the west is Putney Commons, to the Northwest is the Thames River, and to the East is the rest of Putney. You see some tennis courts on the east side of the image off Stockhurst Close, next to the tennis court, obscured by tree cover, is a playground for small children, ideal for Benjamin (age 2.5). These are just a short distance away … if I were a bird.
Unfortunately, I am a pedestrian, which means I need to walk down Sefton to Lower Richmond Road and back up Danemere Street to Ashlone to access this particular playground. It is not a bad walk, but it is about 3 x longer than a straight line path.
Why is there no direct connection? Note that the development on Stockhurst Close was developed in the 1980s or 1990s and should thus been approved with fairly cognizant planners who should have ensured at least inter-neighborhood pedestrian connectivity.
On the front of my building is a sign “No Access to Thames”. I am not clear if this is intended to be a feature (don’t park here if you want to get to the Thames for a walk or to watch the Races) or a signal that people who live on Estates don’t deserve access to the River the way people who paid far more to live on Danemere or Ashlone do.
Just as Stockhurst Close does not provide access to Horne Way, there is another route, a pedestrian path between Pentlow and Danemere connecting the estate to Lower Richmond (which was probably once a driveway to access the estate), which is a quite lovely long park, surrounded by walls on both sides, with no connection to (or from) Pentlow or Danemere.
Having grown up in suburban Columbia, Maryland, fences and walls are strange, but this solid barrier preventing access is very strange, a corridor for the lower classes so they don’t interfere with their betters? In Columbia the homes would just back onto the trail so residents could access the park.
I mentioned the sign “No Access to Thames”. The sign is not strictly true, if one leaves the estate through a gate to the west you can access the Putney Commons, and if you turn north, you can access a nice unpaved pedestrian path along Beverly Brook (running in the trees between the northern part of Horne Way and the southern part of the Barnes playing fields). This winds its way to the Thames, and you can approach the playground there. This is not terribly well-marked, and is about as long as the more urban path along Lower Richmond, but locals know about it. (I discovered it after a few months).
Finally, if I think the Putney playground is too exclusive, I can walk across Putney Commons to Barnes Common (to the west, and there is a playground in Barnes tucked away hidden from the street, behind parking lots, playing fields and tennis courts ( here.
This is in another borough (Richmond upon Thames), supported by their taxes, making me (or Benjamin) a free-rider, as there are no longer inter-borough tolls (see Chapter 2), and the playground is free (though in principle excludable because their is a gate, the collection costs of charging for the playground probably outweigh the revenue.
Ahmed El-Geneidy and I have a recent working paper on Network Circuity and the Location of Home and Work. This paper deals with the question more macroscopically, at the metropolitan level. It turns out people arrange their home and work location to reduce circuity (so they can get more space for the minute of commuting).

The transportation of police

From today’s wapo: Segways on patrol.
I am not sure when the over-hyped ginger became the folly of the Segway, I think they are sort of neat, if over-priced (but that comes from low demand). But somehow Segways have yet to take off. The article is an example of a niche where Segways might have an advantage, police officers on patrol. It is certainly better than having police in giant Chevy Caprices. They are also used by Maryland state police at BWI airport.
Transportation technologies need a base niche where they outperform others in order to gain traction in the market. Specialized markets like police may be what the Segway needs, though it might remain confined to its niches like airport people movers or warehouse forklifts.

Didn’t I see this on the Italian Job

From the BBC: German drives down subway stairs
“A German woman in Dusseldorf blocked the entrance to an underground station when she mistook it for a subterranean car park, police said on Wednesday.”
A) It looks to be a pretty large entrance
B) Perhaps it was signed as a car park. According to the article, this is the second time it happened at this location.
C) Perhaps we should let small cars onto underground trains, I mean, we already let bikes on. (Off-peak of course)
D) What would be the fare for a VW Beetle on the Underground?
E) Car free streets … Car-friendly stations?

Knock-on effects

Why I couldn’t get off the train at Victoria station tonight: London fire causes commuter chaos
“A fire in southeast London has resulted in the closure of a mainline and underground stations, causing chaos for commuters.
London Bridge station was closed following fears that gas cylinders could explode in railway arches in Bermondsey.
Firefighters threw a 200 metre exclusion zone around the workshop where a blaze broke out in the morning.
Even though the fire had been put out, a London Fire Brigade spokesman said the tracks could remain closed overnight if acetylene gas cylinders were found at the workshop.
The closure of London Bridge station – used by thousands of workers in the City – had a knock-on effect elsewhere, with Victoria underground station temporarily shutting because of overcrowding.
Rail services are also affected at Cannon Street, Charing Cross and Waterloo East.”
So the train I am on tonight (Victoria line), while returning from a seminar at UCL, does not stop at Victoria (where I want it to stop, to transfer to the District Line), and where given the name of the line, it is implied it will stop, and proceeds past. I got off at Pimlico, and found a bus #360 to Sloane Square, and transferred to my favorite #22, though it took 15 minutes before it arrived and the bus was packed to the gills with people sitting on the steps.
Had I known it was not going to stop, I would have gotten off earlier (Green Park) and transferred. That would have required at most 5 minutes advance warning given to the driver to inform the passengers. Perhaps I was just unfortunate and the decision to close Victoria station was made while I was on the train between Green Park and Victoria.
At any rate there were lots of peeved and confused passengers exiting at Pimlico.
And all of this occurred because gas canister “might” explode. Somehow I would feel more comfortable with my inconvenience if they actually exploded. (I understand logically that is probably a risk authorities should not take).

FasTracks are Expensive Tracks

According to this article : Transportation project more than a billion dollars over budget The FasTracks project in Denver will cost $6.1 Billion instead of $4.7 Billion, or 30% over the budget promised to voters as recently as November 2004.
Are officials constitutionally incapable of making accurate cost estimates, or was the misestimate intentional?

a blog about Networks and Places


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,079 other followers