30 October 2012

pathholes and other hazards of walking

Looking down the top section of the Loma Linda path, at Queens Road.

The Berkeley Hills just northeast of the UC Berkeley campus have a number of short, often steep walking paths stitching between the more circuitous roads through the area. While the streets that automobiles drive on in the Hills are narrow, difficult to navigate, and a spaghetti-mess of more-or-less intact asphalt, the paths cut alongside seasonal creeks, at fence-lines and under bay laurel, oaks, and redwoods. Often the paths cut straight down toward the lower neighborhoods, eventually depositing the walker on Euclid or another main road that funnels traffic toward to the university campus, or drops further, toward the Shattuck Avenue commercial corridor and the Gourmet Ghetto.

In August I was in Berkeley for a day and was able to explore the La Loma Path, which is on an existing but newly opened section of public right of way. The paths are built, restored, maintained, and advocated for by a local group called the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association, but a situation has emerged common to the NIMBYism (not in my backyard) often found in cities like Berkeley--especially in the very wealthy areas such as the Berkeley Hills--where this new path on public land has become a contested element of the landscape. The property owners adjacent to the path seem to feel that the occasional walker is a nuisance and a danger, as indicated in the hand drawn, chalk signs depicted below. Regardless, the trail is an excellent addition to the neighborhood and I encourage those readers in the Bay Area who have not yet explored the trails to do so. A map of Berkeley's Pathways is available at many bookstores as well as at the Path Wanderers website.

What follows is a short photo-essay of the walk, with some commentary in the captions.

A path-side fence note, indicating where either humans or perhaps dogs should shit.

More fence notes written in chalk on the newly opened pedestrian right of way, noting: "GO HOME PATHHOLES!!! WE WANT QUIET!!!" as well as "EMERGENCY + 12 kV [electrical power] lines = French Fried Path Critters! Yummy!". Electrical lines pass by overhead; the neighbors are either worried for people walking on the path, or threatening that walking the path could lead to death. But then wouldn't living next to the path also be dangerous?
Where the path cuts across Campus Drive there is a campaign asking people to "Join the Kindness [R]Evolution Today!" The smaller sign to the right implores  "Neighbors please be civilized and considerate: Dear Berkeley,
Please help our music teacher regain her essential privacy and safety in her own home and use the easliy available alternative walkway on Glendale Ave just across the Glendale - La Loma intersection (at the bottom) an only 3 houses north (at the top). She needs to have peace and no more disturbance (after 10 months of horrors) in order to recover from injuries of a car accident caused by a drunk driver and more recent police brutality during her unfair arrestes in her own home. May G-d (sic) allow you to fill your heart with the compassion to the suffering of those you meet on your path!" There is a link to the Kindness Revolution website as well. While it is unfortunate that the resident is suffering from many injuries of various natures, I wonder if directing anger and frustration about these issues is best done in through a sign that reflects more-so frustrations that what was considered a private part of one person's backyard is not part of the Berkeley's foot-based transportation network.

The path alongside the music teacher's house.

A dragonfly waiting on a not-quite-ripe blackberry for the August fog to burn off and the air to warm. The blackberries were not quite ripe.
As a perk for winning a Nobel Prize, UC Berkeley faculty are given access to the areas where parking is restricted only to Nobel Laureates. I'm guessing the house in the background here is the residence of an emeritus faculty member who took his or her sign with them upon retirement.
Bamboo acting to fence a property in, with a redwood in the background, banana trees and a palm of some variety in the middle ground.

Figs and apples ripening together, overhead. Berkeley and the Bay Area in general are such a mixture of ecosystems, including, in this case two fairly different types of fruit.

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