Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A hiker's attraction in northern England: Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall was once a frontier of the Roman empire in the northwestern part of Europe, far away from Rome. During that time, Roman soldiers patrolled along the stonework. Now, hikers and history buffs walk stretches of the 84-mile-long National Trail, following the path along the remaining structures of Hadrian's Wall, which winds through a scenic countryside of northern England, south of Scotland. In a recent Smithsonian article with photographies by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson [1], Andrew Curry writes about his east-to-west hike from Wallsend, a town outside Newcastle at the North Sea coast, across the hills-and-crags-covered English landscape to Bowness-on-Solway, the western wall's end on the Irish Sea side.
If you plan for a Hadrian's Wall hike, plan for a multiple-days hike, since there are so many interesting things to see and to do along the second-century Roman fortification in Britain. And, as always in England, plan for a rainy day or two.

[1] Andrew Curry: Trekking Hadrian's Wall Smithsonian October 2009, Volume 40, Number 7, pp. 40-47.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bicycling ahead

Urban bicycling is going to be safer when marked bike lanes are painted on the road or when lanes are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic. In some European cities, for example, bike lanes are elevated, being on the same level as the pedestrian side-walk next to it. Many cities now have an infrastructure that includes a network of bike paths under- or overpassing streets and highways. Sometimes, bike trails shortcut through parks or neighborhoods giving you an advantage in reaching your destination over others who got stuck in car traffic. Another encouraging sign of city-bicycling awareness is that municipal transportation systems, whether based on bus, light rail, train or subway, provide options to bring on your bike.
The bikeability of cities is typically evaluated with indexes. A recent article [1] explains, why measuring the proportion of female bicyclists might be a more significant indicator of the bicycle-friendliness of urban areas than bikeability indexes. Whereas the ratio of male versus female cycling trips is 2:1 in the U.S., in the Netherlands (with an excellent bicycling infrastructure) 55 percent of all riders are woman. The share of people in the U.S., relying on bikes for transportation, is below 2 percent, while it is 12 percent in Germany and 27 percent in the Netherlands.
Whoever is sitting on the bike deserves a safe urban environment whether bicycling for fun, to work or to his/her favorite destination in town.

Keywords: bicycle tracks, urban infrastructure, municipal planning, sustainable transportation, gender bias

[1] Linda Baker: Shifting GearsTo boost urban bicycling, figure out what woman want. Scientific American October 2009, Volume 301, Number 4, pages 28-29.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jobs Peak Ranch Trail near Minden/Gardnerville

The Jobs Peak Ranch Trail in the foothills between the Carson Valley and the Carson Range is a footpath that offers hiking or jogging through an area where the sagebrush and bitterbrush vegetation meets manzanita/pine forest habitats. This trail, crossing through the late-afternoon shadows of Jobs Peak and Jobs Sister, is just 1.4 miles long. It ends at the stateline between Nevada and California, but continues on into the Fay-Luther Trail System.

Getting to the Jobs Peak Ranch Trailhead
From the intersection of the Kingsbury Grade Road (207) with the Foothill Road (208) in Mottsville go south for about 2.5 miles, passing Centerville Lane. Watch for the trailhead sign. The Jobs Peak Ranch Trhd. is to your right. An interpretive panel with a trail map is located at the beginning of the trail. This is a hiking trail. Dogs are allowed on leash. No biking; most parts of the trail are sandy.