Saturday, November 16, 2013

Urban Sprawl

Trying to escape the urban sprawl
In three directions, from where I currently call home, were farm fields as far as the eye could see.  A mere fifteen years ago, gravel roads still existed only a couple miles West of me.  When I first moved to Madison, ten years ago, the city was neatly confined within the "beltline"--the freeway looping around the city.  Now, the suburbs flow like rivers, merging into Madison, and the sea of identical rooftops reach out where corn fields use to stand.

Granted, in the big scheme of things, I'm lucky.  I don't have to ride 20 miles to hit calm country roads.  I used to live that way when I was stationed near downtown Minneapolis.  At least half my ride seemed to be waiting at stoplights, and unless I drove to the outskirts, I would have to plan on a solid 3-4 hours just to get some miles in.  Driving to ride is something I detest, so when I began looking for a place to move, Madison seemed like a good fit.

On my road rides throughout Dane County, I roll past old red barns, small deserted towns, farm equipment sales lots, a multitude of critters and more and more, developed neighborhoods with 6,000-8,000 square foot mcmansions.  These "neighborhoods" are often walled in like fortresses, and bare names which try to conjure up a sense peace, tranquility and oneness with nature.  In reality, they are almost always toxic since they are on a constant spray of herbicides, energy hogs--especially since many have laws not allowing solar panels, and an eye sore.  Most of the developers of these sites chose one of two routes.  They either purchased farm fields from retiring farmers and divided the acreage up into tidy lots or they bulldozed stands of trees, opting to plant a few decorative ones in their place, to allow the new home owners to have a manicured yard.

Phesant Point...I've never seen a phesant near this neighborhood
Each ride from my house, I pass by a multitude of these "neighborhoods".  To this day, I can't help but cringe when I see names like "Pheasant Point" and "Rocky Dell Estates".  I always ask myself "who would want to live so far out, in such a big house, without being able to commune with nature?"  I think of how my small 915 square foot house is such a perfect size and how it could easily fit inside one of the mcmansion's garages.  Don't get me wrong, I understand why people want to live in the country, what I don't understand is why one would want to destroy the reasons one moved out there in the first place--I highly doubt there are any pheasant left in or near pheasant point.

In my own selfish world, I curse these developers.  They are ruining why I road ride--to get away from the city on quiet roads without polluting the air.  My views from ridge lines are now dotted with 30ft. vaulted glass windows and pools.  I wonder if in another ten years, I'll be in the same situation I was in when I lived in Minneapolis.  Am I going to have to move yet again just to get away from the sprawl?  It is because of these thoughts, and many others, I am so pro inner city development.  I approve of packing as many folks as possible inside the city limits--forcing folks to live with less space.  I'm guessing there won't be an option in fifty years when folks have to admit we're in a energy until then, I will continue to keep my head down and gaze forward while riding through the urban sprawl.

Timber Ridge--where the only trees are decorative

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