Thursday, August 27, 2015

Great Driving Roads: The worst road in Cambridge isn't in Cambridge ...

... it's in Somerville. Beacon Street from Inman Square to Porter Square is just shockingly bad! When will Somerville do something about it?!

My car obsession has led me to a profound insight of a potentially inconsequential kind: we celebrate car designers as artists, artisans, engineers, and fix-it guys of genius proportions. And in some of the greatest cars, they are all these things and more. The Jaguar XK 120 from the 1950s comes to mind as does today's Porsche 918. There are many more examples.

Jaguar XK120

Still, equally as important to the driving experience as the auto engineer is the road engineer. Driving in its totality is the combination of car and driver and way. There is as much artistry, ingenuity, problem-solving genius in the road you're driving on as there is in the car you're driving in.  Think about that the next time you come upon a covered bridge in Connecticut, or you bank a curve down a stem winder in North Carolina, or crest a mountain in Montana.

Connecticut, scenic and lovely

US Route 129 in North Carolina with 318 curves with corners called "Beginner's End"

US Route 212 in Montana. The grand open landscape of the American West

The YouTube car magazine EVO is the only place on the web I've found that recognizes the contribution a great road engineer with such unqualified admiration. Italian Antonio Parietti clearly created works of art in his roads on Majorca, Spain and I recommend watching this little bit of car/road/travel porn narrated by the magazine's Henry Catchpole. Don't worry, no naked women (or men) appear, but some truly raw, naked beauty does come through, along with an overly-dramatic, quintessentially British soundtrack to make sure you get the full emotional point of all this scenery. Man and nature do a dance and we get to watch. It's worth the look.