Secret Decoder Ring I

It’s an inside joke between my wife and I that in order to really enjoy cycling in San Diego, you need to know the routes, that is, you need a secret decoder ring like the one that came in a cereal box.

Alas, there are not enough prizes in a case of cereal boxes to cut through the snarl that is the “surface streets” of San Diego.

I love the term “surface streets” because it makes the normal roads that I take everyday seem kind of freakish. It almost seems like the City of San Diego goes out of its way to make anyone who doesn’t own an automobile seem like a Luddite freak! Perhaps they do. If so, I’m proud to be one of those.

Anyway, one thing I probably mentioned before is that I get told, all the time, after I have gotten to a place on a bicycle, that “one can not possible bike anywhere practical in Southern California”.

The more I look at the world from the motorists point of view, the more I can understand (but never agree with) this point of view.

Indeed, when I first got to this fair city and started riding, I began memorizing what I called “the passes” which is the few through streets.

I won’t go on about my old home, too much, but in Philly there is no such thing as a “through street” because there were extremely few cul-de-sacs.

This made for exploring more fun because you could randomly take any set of streets to get from here to there. In San Diego, there’s usually only one route. These through streets are super-busy. Thus they make them wider. But there are too many cross streets. So they blow out of a few stop signs and make the perpendicular streets have to wait–perhaps indefinitely if traffic persists–to “speed things up”.

Knowing all this now, explains why, 15 years ago when I was in school with many Californians, why they complained so much about Philly’s poor design. Overall, I find it interesting to compare.

Also, I do find that there are some advantages to San Diego’s design which is that sometimes one can create a really quiet route by stitching together a series of streets and meander around the through streets. Sometimes.

It takes skill and a lot of knowledge of the City.

Plus, of course, a Secret Decoder Ring.


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