10 November 2009

two ways

Last Saturday I met one of the very few traffic engineers in Iceland, and we spent some time discussing how they're in the process of overhauling the timing of all the lights in town so that certain corridors have the "green wave" where you can hit greens all the way along. This was happy news, since only a few months ago I'd been having a conversation about how the number and timing of the lights in town can make geographically close places seem very far away. I'd actually done a mini-project just after that where I took a camera-phone picture of every red light I waited at over the course of a week's worth of commuting. I missed a few (my cameraphone is slow, I was of course focusing on driving, and sometimes they turned green only a second after I'd stopped), but it still shows the variety and frequency to some extent. You can see how the Búllan left-turn stop is a frequent appearance, but also how the view at some lights make it no hardship to wait. Still, I'm happy to see that these changes the traffic engineer mentioned have started to make a noticeable difference, and I'd be interested to see if a week of red lights in a few months (when there's enough light to repeat this project) would yield the same number of photos over a week.

To contrast with this, I occasionally go for the 40 minute walking commute that I've mentioned before. My most common route passes my local corner bakery, then heads over the pond and down Laugavegur, ending on the rather ordinary office-building street where I work. I've continued the walking commute in spite of the season change, taking another route in the darkness of Icelandic November. In the dark the appeal is different- the route I take goes along a street displaying views to the left of downtown, and passes a number of small houses where I can see people reading the paper and drinking coffee in their kitchens. I've also found other mysterious corners of Reykjavík, like the location of the handicapped association swimming pool, and hidden gardens located in the center of downtown. To follow the whole trip from one morning a month ago, check it here.

So now you see how most of my days start and end, a string of red lights or of uninspired architecture framed by what is still some seriously memorable landscape. Could always be worse.

No comments: