Re-invented roads

There was a time that the car had not yet been invented, and we travelled the roads on foot, on horseback, or by horse and carriage. These roads were built for the needs we had back then. They did not have to be wide, and trees on both sides gave shelter from the wind and probably also made the roads easy to find in the landscape. Most likely they were dirt roads or paved with cobblestones.

But then the car came in, with its remarkable speed. And tarmac was invented, serving the traveller with a smoother ride. Many roads were completely rebuilt to create more capacity and exploit the full potential of car driving. Other roads, often in the back country, stayed more or less the way they were, but had to be re-invented.

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Like this one. The function of the trees as a shelter is not as relevant as it was in the past. Moreover, they are a safety hazard for people who lose control over their vehicles. But you need a very good reason to fell trees and ruin the historic landscape. So they are still there. And the road is made safer by making it seem smaller (car drivers drive slower on a smaller road), and by adding bike lanes out of red tarmac.

The old trees by the side of the road, and the modern tarmac, engineered to make the road as safe as possible, make it a sort of hybrid road. And while hybrid is usually sold as ‘best of both worlds’, the overall picture is not always very appealing.

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Look at  another road, that was also re-invented. It probably stayed more or less the way it was, except for the tarmac. In what sense was it re-invented then? Well, by the modes of traffic that make use of it. This road is now excellent for cycling. In the countryside, away from busy traffic, and with a comfortable surface. Some use it for commuter traffic, others for leisure. And the historic character of the road is preserved.

As I took these pictures on a Sunday morning cycle ride, I don’t have to tell you which of these re-invented roads I like most. I hope they are never going to paint white lines on it.

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