About four miles from where I live, there’s a community farm where I sometimes volunteer. It’s a lovely place, run by beautiful people. When I leave the road and enter the preserve surrounding the farm, I feel the air change – it cools, gentles, swells with moisture and birdsong. If the farm were next door, I might visit every day. If I could reach it by walking path, I might go a couple times a week.
As it is, I appear intermittently; having to share a busy road with motor vehicles turns the trip from lark to hurdle. Not only must I travel alongside giant hunks of metal that could kill me in an instant, I must also feel each force field as it hurtles by (when I’m walking, I often let particularly strong force fields push me a few feet off the road; when I’m biking, and leaving the pavement is more difficult, I usually don’t). Also, since the road is wide, and meant for people toting their own weather shields, there’s little shade. I absorb heat rising from asphalt, heat pulsing from sun. Yes, I enjoy the push of my legs, the rhythm of my steps. Yes, I’ve walked and biked thousands of miles on roads such as these. Yes, I’m terrifically stubborn about filling my daily quota of self-propulsion. Also I’m tired of fighting for space, on roads that disregard me.
So. Does our web of highways bring us together, or tear us apart?
At Earthaven I could travel from house to field to farm to orchard without encountering speeding hunks of metal. Though the roads allow for motor vehicles, they’re narrow enough to welcome humans on two feet; the recommended driving speed is a crawl. Sure, I’d love it if the gas guzzlers gave way to trikes and cargo bikes – but even in their current form, the web of roads through the village invites me out for a stroll.