Cruising Down a Curved Road

Tail of the Dragon near Deals Gap, NC./ Wikipedia

For the holiday, I went to my grandmother’s house in rural Alamance County for dinner and family time. I’ve written about making the drive before, but this time I want to focus on the areas of curved roads that I encounter on the route. I’ve driven on mountainous curved roads that make you slow down and clutch your wheel. Yet, these curves, once one is skilled, can be taken at multiple speeds.

When I was younger, and still played video games, I loved playing games like Gran Turismo which featured road races. Many times I’d fall off the cliffs on the curved roads, but once I mastered them, they became my favorite parts of the game (that and the rally races, since they always allowed me to drive in the dirt).

Like many things, curved roads serve as a metaphor for life. The road is a defined path, but in those areas, they aren’t straight lines and they aren’t always on a level plain. That’s the purpose of the curves, to navigate hills and mountains and streams that get in the way of a straight path. It reminds me of how in my life, after seeing the challenges and facing the minor panic, I in turn navigate well through curves and come out one the stronger.

One would note, in many urban plans, curves are evil. We marvel at things like Lombard Street in San Francisco, but no one is rushing out to re-create curves or build hills to add to the urban landscape. In the Transect code, hills and valleys are in the T1-T2 place, natural wonders, but not places where people live who have a choice. But some people do make those choices to live there. Others don’t. Regardless, there are lessons for all in the curving of a road.

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About Kristen Jeffers

I'm Kristen. Almost five years ago, I got tired of not seeing black women as nerded out about trains, better streets, riding bikes, walking not just out of necessity, tall buildings, old buildings and honestly a lot of other things. I was in grad school for community and economic development (ok, it’s actually an MPA), and I wanted to make sure people knew I existed and that I could help them do this thing called placemaking better. Five years later, I’m still doing that, although not from my hometown of Greensboro, NC, but from Kansas City, MO. I spend most of my time in Kansas City promoting better biking and walking infrastructure metro-wide with BikeWalk KC and the Kansas City B-cycle. But I also wrote a book A Black Urbanist (you can grab that over on the right) and sometimes I give speeches and help other communities tell their stories at design charrettes and public meetings. I’ve also written or appeared in all of the major “urbanist” publications, either as a subject or as a writer, as well as most of my hometown papers as subject or writer as well.