Invisible Trajectories

From Lisa in Redlands

I live on Jefferson Street in Redlands, and I take the same route every day. I go down from Jefferson to Independence to Dearborn. And then take a left on University and a right onto the 10 Freeway. Then I spend about an hour on the freeway. I take the 10 West to the 215 to the 91 West to the 241 Toll-Road to the 261 Toll Road, then off at Jamboree. Left at Campus, right onto University, left on Mesa Drive and then a right into the parking structure at UCI. It takes me exactly an hour and 5 minutes if I go the speed limit.

From my neighborhood, the freeway is about 10 minutes. It always seems like it takes so much time to get from the toll road. If I leave at 10:00am I know I’m not going to hit traffic. Actually, from about 9:00 to 2:00 it's pretty good, then I have to wait until 7:30pm or 8:00 at night to miss traffic. If I leave at 7:00am, I can be sure to have a 2 to 3 hour drive. So, if I have an early morning class I usually sleep over in Irvine. The traffic is a big enough hassle and waste of time that I'm willing to sleep in my crumby studio, freezing my butt off in the winter, sleeping on an air mattress in a sleeping bag, showering at the Anteater Recreation Center, so that I don't have to drive in morning traffic. That's how much driving on the 91 Freeway alters my life. That's pretty bad. I also stay in Irvine until 8:00pm if my class is over after 2:00pm. I’ll work in my studio until 7:30pm in order to miss traffic. That’s five and a half hours more in Irvine than I'd rather be. This experience has changed my attitude about commuting. I'd rather have a so-so job in Redlands than drive anywhere I have to get onto the freeway.

I’ve felt more connected to my community I started riding my bike and walking. I know my little 15-mile radius really well. You can see people’s gardens. When you are riding your bike you notice small things. On a recent ride, a little kid stopped what he was doing to wave to me. Most people are friendly in the street, it’s the people in the cars that aren’t.

My community is really hard to navigate. It’s much different than those communities that are laid out on a grid. Redlands is an old place and there are lots of streets that run diagonally. When I first moved here I was always getting lost. I really felt that I wanted to get to know it so I didn’t carry a map around with me. I would get lost all of the time, so I got a map because I wanted to go to all of the garage sales. I’d map out where they were because I couldn’t find the streets.

The county roads and the roads maintained by the City of Redlands have big differences. The county roads are really bad, even with really fat tires. I was riding my bike today on Highland Avenue, which is in the groves. There they've filled in the potholes with sand because some county workers were repairing drainage pipes. I don't know if it's better or worse, because now I'm riding through sand instead of avoiding potholes. I also noticed that on the Redlands side of Highland the road is in very poor condition. At Highland and Redlands Blvd. I have to stand on my bike and hold the handlebars with a death grip to get across the road. It’s much the same at Tennessee and Colton by the railroad tracks. I usually pedal fast across Redlands Blvd when I'm on Highland. Today was the first day I realized just how bad the road conditions really are there.  It always seems like the light is about to change there, so I'm usually standing up and pedaling to get across as quickly as possible, so I don't miss the light.

The road that connects Yucaipa to Redlands is really nice. It’s well maintained. This is 5th Avenue, which turns into Highland, a very poor road. At the intersection of Highland and Judson is where 5th turns into Highland Avenue. Actually, the road starts getting bad at Wabash Avenue. 

Behind Crafton Hills College, kids drive their trucks and motorcycles. There are still family farms, but people don’t live there. I buy fresh produce from an older lady who still farms her property. She sells basil for $1 and fresh fruits. Sometimes she sells pumpkins in the fall. She watches from her window to make sure you put cash in the money-box. As I leave, I can hear her come out the door to collect the money. There's a big padlock on the money box. She is quite wealthy, so it always makes me wonder why she is so careful about the money. And I wonder why she waits until I leave to come outside. What if I didn't put any money in? What can she do after I leave?  

The 10 Freeway is very frustrating because we have all of those big trucks. They make it very hard to access the freeway because they are all in the slow lane. It’s kinda creepy when you see them sleeping on the streets in their trucks, like on Dearborn. I have a negative feeling toward them and perhaps that’s due to the urban myths my mother always told me when I was a kid. My mom gets into these urban myths: people hiding under vans that grab your legs. The ones that are car-related really bother me like the one where there is an old woman who needs a ride, but she’s sitting on a knife, and is really a man!

As the availability of oil decreases, as it must, we do have a decent Metro-link system in place. It will take drastic measures, but I think those who work far from home will eventually convert to public transportation. I ride my bike more and more around town and I'm hopeful that others will catch on to the benefits of alternative forms of mobility. They look at me like I’m a nut when I don't want a plastic bag for my groceries (I put them in my bike bag), but as oil prices rise I think people will start to be more creative in the ways they get around. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say and you don't even have to be very inventive to hop on your bike to go grocery shopping.