Author Topic: Distances  (Read 6809 times)

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Thipu1

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Re: Distances
« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2012, 10:49:31 AM »
Not exactly distances...
My husband likes to hike, and uses topographical maps where lines are used show altitude.
He is used to maps that are graded every 10 metres.
When he went hiking in Bulgaria he found out the hard way that the local maps are graded every 50 metres...

We like to walk when we're visiting a new city.  It works well in the Eastern US and in Europe but, Hoo-Wee!  San Francisco!  What looks like a ten minute walk on the map is at least half an hour because of the hills.  I swear, the city was designed by Escher. 

cicero

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Re: Distances
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2012, 08:59:03 AM »
not exactly distances but i was shocked to learn that public transportation isn't readily available everywhere in the US, and sidewalks are unheard of in many suburbs. and people do't walk anywhere (except for Manhatten).

my brother lives in a NJ suburb that is on a train line and bus line (they have both trains and buses literally down the block from their house - a 2-3 minutes walk - to NYC),  they also have some basic shops 2-3 minutes from their house (CVS, Kosher grocery, bakery, dunkin donuts, pizza, bank, hair dresser etc). My sister lives in a suburb of DC - with a mall down the block, metro and bus lines about 10 minute walk away. so i thought that's the way it is.

when i stayed at my friend's house in NYS (about an hour from NYC) - there is nothing nearby, you have to drive or get a cab to get anywhere, i walked from their house to a strip mall - just because i wanted to walk - and it was scary! no side walks, took me about 30 minutes each way to walk

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camlan

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Re: Distances
« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2012, 10:02:50 AM »
not exactly distances but i was shocked to learn that public transportation isn't readily available everywhere in the US, and sidewalks are unheard of in many suburbs. and people do't walk anywhere (except for Manhatten).

my brother lives in a NJ suburb that is on a train line and bus line (they have both trains and buses literally down the block from their house - a 2-3 minutes walk - to NYC),  they also have some basic shops 2-3 minutes from their house (CVS, Kosher grocery, bakery, dunkin donuts, pizza, bank, hair dresser etc). My sister lives in a suburb of DC - with a mall down the block, metro and bus lines about 10 minute walk away. so i thought that's the way it is.

when i stayed at my friend's house in NYS (about an hour from NYC) - there is nothing nearby, you have to drive or get a cab to get anywhere, i walked from their house to a strip mall - just because i wanted to walk - and it was scary! no side walks, took me about 30 minutes each way to walk

I think the older cities in the US, the ones that were started long before cars were invented, are more walkable than newer cities. Boston, New York City, Chicago--they all have decent public transportation and neighborhoods where you can walk to stores and the library and church and other services. (I'm leaving out west coast cities purely because I know nothing about them.) Many of these cities also had geographical constraints that affected how much space was available for building--the ocean or large lakes on one side, rivers that posed the problem of how to get across them, mountains or hills, etc. So they crowded into the space available and built up, hence the skyscrapers of NYC.

But out in the middle part of the country, the land is fairly flat and there's a lot of it. Space, which is at a premium along the coasts, is easier to come by in the mid-west. So people took advantage of that and the development of cars and sprawled out. Once individual car ownership was common, it was easy to escape the crowding of the cities and have a house and a yard to call your own. Because you had the car, you didn't have to live within walking distance of anything.

I've lived in Boston without a car and been perfectly happy. But when I moved to a rural area of Connecticut and live 1.5 miles from work, I thought I'd walk to work most days. But unfortunately for me, the walk was along stretches of road with lots of traffic going well over the speed limit, no sidewalks, no street lights and in some places no shoulder to the road to walk on. I drove around much, much more in the country than I did in the city--and I had thought it would be the other way around.
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Thipu1

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Re: Distances
« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2012, 11:07:22 AM »
We have found this to be true, Camlan. 

In NYC people will say, 'It's only 25 blocks.  Let's walk'.
In the suburbs or country, people will say, 'It's almost a mile and a half.  We'll take the car'.

This brings up the question of 'walking distance'.  When a stranger asks where something is in relation to where we are, the next question is, 'Is it within walking distance?'

That's a loaded question because everyone's idea of 'walking distance' is different.  For some people it's 10 blocks.  For others, five miles is no problem.

Shea

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Re: Distances
« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2012, 11:56:28 AM »
[...] and residents of the UK think 100 miles is a long distance.

And you shall never shake me from my conviction that it IS. :D

As the great Bill Bryson observed in Notes from a Small Island: "Surrey to Cornwall, a distance that most Americans would happily go to get a taco..."

In high school, my friends and I more than once drove from our town in southern Oregon to Redding in northern California to get lunch at the In 'N' Out Burger (they're only in California, at the one in Redding is nearest). It's about 275 miles there and back. Yes, we were crazy ;D.


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Sharnita

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Re: Distances
« Reply #35 on: March 03, 2012, 12:37:55 PM »
safety could also determine walking distance.  A student from my school was shot walking to the store for milk in the middle of the day a few years ago - stray bullet that wasn't meant for him.  Of course, even driving carries some risk of inadvertantly getting shot in certain neighborhoods.

JoW

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Re: Distances
« Reply #36 on: March 03, 2012, 11:56:34 PM »
I think a big determinion of walking distance is sidewalks.  And that relates to safety. 

I live less than 5 miles from work but I would not consider walking or riding a bike to work.  The sidewalks end about 2 miles from my house.  The shoulders are gravel and too narrow to walk or ride on safely.  I occasionally walk to the grocery 1/2 mile from my house.  But the walk starts by crossing my very busy street.  There is a sidewalk across the street, none on my side of the street. 

saki

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Re: Distances
« Reply #37 on: March 04, 2012, 09:02:22 AM »
I think a lot of the reason why Americans don't get why Europeans don't want to drive what sound like short distances is to do with traffic.  Lots and lots of European cities were designed and built long before cars so the traffic can just be awful.  I know that's true of some American cities but there are lots more American cities that are designed for cars so driving is more straightforward.  I drove from North London to just south of the river the other day - a distance of about 13 miles.  How long did it take me?  An hour and 50 minutes. OK, even for London traffic, that was bad - an accident on one of the main roads - but there was no such accident on the way out and it still took an hour and a quarter.  We could have done it by tube in 30 minutes.  And we usually would.

For me, if someone says "X is walking distance from Y", I assume it would take 30 minutes or less - i.e. about 2 miles.  I frequently walk to work which is 4 and a half miles (about an hour and a quarter) but just because I walk that regularly doesn't mean that I think of it as standard "walking distance", it would be more standard to travel that distance by tube/bike.

Dindrane

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Re: Distances
« Reply #38 on: March 04, 2012, 12:56:23 PM »
Even the American cities that were designed after cars became common can be pretty intense in terms of traffic, though.

I took cello lessons when I was in school.  My cello teacher lived in a neighborhood in Houston that (according to Google Maps) is 10 miles away from where I lived and should take about 15 minutes driving.  However, since the route from my parents' house to my cello teacher's house went through some of the busiest freeways in the city (including one stretch that always had very heavy traffic even outside of rush hour), the trip generally took me an hour.  Granted, I was going to cello lessons and returning home right smack in the middle of rush hour, but then again, rush hour took up about 6 hours of each weekday.  I'd say the average trip time for that route outside of rush hour is about 30 minutes.  That 15 minutes Google Maps quoted is what I'd expect it to take at 2:00 a.m., but that's about the only time of day it would be realistic.

I think the difference is that, unlike London and other European cities, there's no viable alternative to driving in a city like Houston.  There is public transportation available, but it wouldn't be faster or easier than driving, so people don't use it if they don't have to.  Using Google Maps again, taking the bus from my parents' house to that neighborhood would have taken over an hour, and I'd have had to walk about a mile on each end to get to and from bus stops.  Even without a cello to transport, no way would I have done anything but drive if I had the choice. :)

So in short, I don't think it's so much the design of the city (because even cities that are designed with cars in mind can be bat-poo crazy to drive in) so much as the lack of viable mass transit in some places.  In places where the public transportation is easier and faster than driving, people use it.  There are just a lot of cities that don't really have that.


Bluenomi

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Re: Distances
« Reply #39 on: March 04, 2012, 07:37:31 PM »
I've come across this a lot.

When visiting my parents in the UK I did quite a few days trips around the place. The amount of times people thought I was insane for driving from my parent's place in Surry to Brighton, Canterbury etc and back in the day was amazing. Apparently British people don't drive that for for the day.

British relatives have been caught out visiting us. My great aunt and uncle stayed with my grandparents on the Gold Coast, QLD. They decided to drive to Cairns. Grandparents told them it would be a few days to drive there and they thought that was driving a few hours a day. My grandparents idea of a days driving was 12-14 hours a day and it did take them that long.

sammycat

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Re: Distances
« Reply #40 on: March 05, 2012, 09:02:40 PM »
Here's a comparison between Europe & Australia
http://www.freepchelp.co.uk/threads/3630-Size-of-Australia-comparison-to-Europe.

And one between Australia & America
http://www.anbg.gov.au/maps/aust-usa-map.jpg

Those maps are very interesting!  Europe/UK looks so tiny in comparison to Australia.  There are cattle stations (farms) the size of some European countries.

During one holiday in the US, DH and I drove for 6 hours straight (only stopping for petrol) and went through 2-3 different states.  Here in Australia that wouldn't even get you out of one state in some cases.  In the outback it can take many hours to drive between neighbouring properties.

CakeEater

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Re: Distances
« Reply #41 on: March 05, 2012, 10:15:18 PM »
And one between Australia & America
http://www.anbg.gov.au/maps/aust-usa-map.jpg

Is it just me, or does Australia kind of look like an upside-down-and-backwards version of the US?  It's even upside-down and backwards in terms of the weather! :)

Distance can be kind of a funny thing.  Like many others, I grew up in Houston.  As a result, my concept of mileage is horribly skewed.  I do fine on freeways and such, because it's pretty easy to tie mileage to elapsed time (if you're going around 60 miles per hour, you'll drive a mile each minute).  But for shorter distances at slower speeds, I have absolutely no concept of how far a mile is or how long it'll take me to get there.  Inside the city of Houston, the two things are so entirely unrelated that I just never learned.  Getting from point A to point B could take 15 minutes or an hour and a half, depending upon the time of day.

What I find extra hilarious, though, is my apparently highly flexible concept of what "far" is.  In Houston, anything that was within a 30-minute radius of me (during non-rush-hour traffic) was reasonable and not that far.  I might not want to go there during rush hour (when that 30 minutes could take 2 or 3 times as long), but I didn't see it as inherently unreasonable.  Most of the restaurants and stores I went to took me at least 15 minutes driving.

But now I live in a much smaller city.  30 minutes of driving takes me from one end of it to the other, no matter which direction I'm going.  And that includes long stretches of road where the speed limit is a tortoise-like 20 mph and strings of intersections where you either hit every single light green, or every single light red.  Despite having lived in Houston until after college and having learned to drive there, I never go to places on the other side of the city here.  It's too far!  But when I visit Houston, I'm right back to thinking that something 30 minutes away is "pretty close."

I amuse myself, I really do.

I'm the same with distances. I really have no idea of how long 1 or 2 or 10km is. I describe every distance by time taken to drive/walk there. Everyone I know does the same. We just don't refer to things being 10km away. They're 5 minutes/15 minutes/an hour away.

I grew up in an outer suburb of sprawling city, where it takes about 30 minutes to drive into the CBD. I now live in small town, where it takes about 5 minutes to drive anywhere, and although we regularly drive 3 hours to get to the city to visit, that 30 minutes just seems like an eternity now.

kareng57

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Re: Distances
« Reply #42 on: March 05, 2012, 10:28:02 PM »
And one between Australia & America
http://www.anbg.gov.au/maps/aust-usa-map.jpg

Is it just me, or does Australia kind of look like an upside-down-and-backwards version of the US?  It's even upside-down and backwards in terms of the weather! :)

Distance can be kind of a funny thing.  Like many others, I grew up in Houston.  As a result, my concept of mileage is horribly skewed.  I do fine on freeways and such, because it's pretty easy to tie mileage to elapsed time (if you're going around 60 miles per hour, you'll drive a mile each minute).  But for shorter distances at slower speeds, I have absolutely no concept of how far a mile is or how long it'll take me to get there.  Inside the city of Houston, the two things are so entirely unrelated that I just never learned.  Getting from point A to point B could take 15 minutes or an hour and a half, depending upon the time of day.

What I find extra hilarious, though, is my apparently highly flexible concept of what "far" is.  In Houston, anything that was within a 30-minute radius of me (during non-rush-hour traffic) was reasonable and not that far.  I might not want to go there during rush hour (when that 30 minutes could take 2 or 3 times as long), but I didn't see it as inherently unreasonable.  Most of the restaurants and stores I went to took me at least 15 minutes driving.

But now I live in a much smaller city.  30 minutes of driving takes me from one end of it to the other, no matter which direction I'm going.  And that includes long stretches of road where the speed limit is a tortoise-like 20 mph and strings of intersections where you either hit every single light green, or every single light red.  Despite having lived in Houston until after college and having learned to drive there, I never go to places on the other side of the city here.  It's too far!  But when I visit Houston, I'm right back to thinking that something 30 minutes away is "pretty close."

I amuse myself, I really do.

I'm the same with distances. I really have no idea of how long 1 or 2 or 10km is. I describe every distance by time taken to drive/walk there. Everyone I know does the same. We just don't refer to things being 10km away. They're 5 minutes/15 minutes/an hour away.

I grew up in an outer suburb of sprawling city, where it takes about 30 minutes to drive into the CBD. I now live in small town, where it takes about 5 minutes to drive anywhere, and although we regularly drive 3 hours to get to the city to visit, that 30 minutes just seems like an eternity now.


I am in Western Canada and for a long time had the mind-set that cities in Central or Eastern Canada (though we all thought of anywhere east of Saskatchewan as being East) were only a few hours travel apart.  Of course all you have to do is to look at a map to know that is not the case, but it is a mindset.  Probably many Eastern Canadians might figure that Vancouver and Edmonton are only a few hours apart, for example.

kherbert05

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Re: Distances
« Reply #43 on: March 05, 2012, 10:54:11 PM »
I've lived in Houston all my life so that's what I'm used to -- the huge distances and a potentially long time to get from one place to another, all within the confines of Greater Houston, depending on traffic.

Back in the olden days when we used paper maps, a map of what encompassed Houston and the highly populated areas surrounding Houston took the front AND back of a large map. Once we went to visit Austin and pulled out the map of the city to figure out where we were going. We were in one corner of the map and had to get to somewhere in the opposite corner.

We estimated an hour and a half as travel time. Turned out to be 20 minutes. It's all relative... The map of Austin was about the same size of the map of Houston, we just didn't think about the relative sizes of the cities and therefore, the scale being quite different.
That was if you just wanted a very general map.  A detailed map actually took up a 3 ring binder. I remember navigating to places while Dad drove using his Key Map.




My boss at the museum told this on himself. He wanted to explore a small town near San Angelo. He figured it was 15 minutes away from the map. Nearly an hour later - He thought he had driven into a twilight zone. There isn't much to see in Eden.


Same boss - cracked him up that all of us Texans always packed coolers when we travel between cities. Thankfully he never broke down in the middle of no where and needed water.


University friend traveling from LA to Georgetown, Texas. She told us how she and her Mother celerbrated nearly being there when they hit El Paso. It is 800 miles from LA to El Paso and It is almost 600 miles from El Paso to Georgetown - closer to the middle of the state than the Eastern edge.


I don't think much of getting up on a holiday getting in the car and driving 3 hours to to Austin or San Antonio do some tourist things and come back home. 

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Ereine

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Re: Distances
« Reply #44 on: March 06, 2012, 12:16:16 AM »
And one between Australia & America
http://www.anbg.gov.au/maps/aust-usa-map.jpg

Is it just me, or does Australia kind of look like an upside-down-and-backwards version of the US?  It's even upside-down and backwards in terms of the weather! :)

Distance can be kind of a funny thing.  Like many others, I grew up in Houston.  As a result, my concept of mileage is horribly skewed.  I do fine on freeways and such, because it's pretty easy to tie mileage to elapsed time (if you're going around 60 miles per hour, you'll drive a mile each minute).  But for shorter distances at slower speeds, I have absolutely no concept of how far a mile is or how long it'll take me to get there.  Inside the city of Houston, the two things are so entirely unrelated that I just never learned.  Getting from point A to point B could take 15 minutes or an hour and a half, depending upon the time of day.

What I find extra hilarious, though, is my apparently highly flexible concept of what "far" is.  In Houston, anything that was within a 30-minute radius of me (during non-rush-hour traffic) was reasonable and not that far.  I might not want to go there during rush hour (when that 30 minutes could take 2 or 3 times as long), but I didn't see it as inherently unreasonable.  Most of the restaurants and stores I went to took me at least 15 minutes driving.

But now I live in a much smaller city.  30 minutes of driving takes me from one end of it to the other, no matter which direction I'm going.  And that includes long stretches of road where the speed limit is a tortoise-like 20 mph and strings of intersections where you either hit every single light green, or every single light red.  Despite having lived in Houston until after college and having learned to drive there, I never go to places on the other side of the city here.  It's too far!  But when I visit Houston, I'm right back to thinking that something 30 minutes away is "pretty close."

I amuse myself, I really do.

I'm the same with distances. I really have no idea of how long 1 or 2 or 10km is. I describe every distance by time taken to drive/walk there. Everyone I know does the same. We just don't refer to things being 10km away. They're 5 minutes/15 minutes/an hour away.

I grew up in an outer suburb of sprawling city, where it takes about 30 minutes to drive into the CBD. I now live in small town, where it takes about 5 minutes to drive anywhere, and although we regularly drive 3 hours to get to the city to visit, that 30 minutes just seems like an eternity now.

I don't know if people who drive use times instead of distances but I always use distances because times can vary so much. In summer my commute takes 20 minutes by bike, in winter the same 5 km takes 40 minutes, by bus and walking and Google tells me that driving would take 15 minutes. I suspect though that most people who use distances do calculate times in their head but telling someone that a shop is 20 minutes away isn't very useful.