Engineering Odditity

I’m going to talk about something that I know almost nothing about and that’s road engineering.

I was thinking about it this morning, and I realized that it seems to be the only field where the engineers dictate the terms.

It’s as if engineering took over marketing and management. The even made themselves sole consumers of the product.

They have two chief tools of control: their titles and safety.

As for safety, who isn’t for it? Unless they are against it.

I think that if we have two situations, and they are totally the same except one is safer, we should take the safer alternative.

Unforutately few situations are so simplistic, and in the real world, we all make trade-offs regarding safety, daily. Sometimes we have to be risky to be safe.

This means that we must leave the house and meet people. This gives us excercise which protects us from chronic disease and our friends protect us from depression and other problems. So it’s not a black and white thing otherwise we’d seal ourselves off in caves.

Which isn’t a bad idea for some people. 🙂

Besides safety there are titles which tell us, “I know best. How dare you question me.”

I find this attitude to be silly.

Imagine the engineers at Apple when they first heard they were going to make a music player that had a library of music, but you could put it into your pocket!

Absurd! It can never be done. Nobody wants one. The parts aren’t available. And so on.

No, the people with these attitudes are in the food lines now.

The others did the impossible and made the product.

I’m in the same boat at work. I have to design this product that many people say is overly ambitious. All of us are working as hard as we can on it instead of whining that it can’t be done and that the compeditor has all ready made a better product so let’s just use that.

Likewise, when people are told that they want separate infrastrure, and they want it to be safe, the good engineers of the world are working hard to make that dream happen.

There’s more than one way to skin and cat, and there’s more than one way to design a road.

I’m just happy to be alive in a time when it looks like everyone is putting out their own iPod styles of roads. They are being brave and bold and experimenting.

We will have some set backs just like we did with the rocket program. But when the first rocket the US made exploded on the platform, we didn’t decide that the Russians were all ready in space and that nobody needed to go to the moon anyway.

We got back onto our feet and built the rocket of our dreams.

So everytime someone says that bike infrastructure is bad for some reason or another, recall the iPod engineers and think about the US putting the flag on the moon.

Just like we did with the space program and portable music players, the we can lead the world in bike infrastructure.

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