Tuesday, June 20, 2017
How far is it?
In my usual healthy state, I can almost always combine walking, biking and public transit to travel wherever I want to go in my city.
But even then, my choices of where to go are influenced by environmental factors.
For example, there are five public libraries within 2 miles of my house.
to Madrona/Sally Goldmark Branch: 1.2 miles
to Capitol Hill Branch: 1.2 miles
to Montlake Branch: 1.3 miles
to Douglass-Truth Branch: 1.6 miles
to Central Library: 2.0 miles
I usually prefer to travel by bike. The easiest library to reach is not the closest; I choose the low traffic and "mostly flat" route to the Douglass Truth Library most of the time.
Traveling by wheelchair and public transit last year, Douglass-Truth and Capitol Hill were a close tie. I could reach either library without either transferring to a second bus or negotiating a dauntingly steep hill. Douglass-Truth requires a longer, more circuitous bus ride; Capitol Hill means a longer roll along the sidewalk.
Walking, I usually prefer the Capitol Hill Branch. Getting there requires climbing a steep hill - both ways! - but there are interesting destinations along the way, including grocery stores, restaurants, and lots of elegant old houses with colorful yards. Even though Madrona/Sally Goldmark is the same distance away, the route there doesn't include other destinations so it "feels" much farther.
The Central Library has amenities that the other libraries lack - I love the Seattle Room on the tenth floor! - but getting there is much more challenging than the 2-mile distance would suggest. It requires a transfer to get there by bus, and the bus stops are on steep hills making wheelchair access daunting. Hills, traffic, and inadequate bike lanes discourage bike access. So I only rarely visit this Seattle treasure.
Distance is only a minor factor in determining "how far away" these five libraries are from my home. Hills, traffic, interesting surroundings and bike infrastructure count for much more.