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Ode to a piece of concrete at sundown

February 28, 2016
The view looking west (for the umpteenth time) from the1400 block of West Broadway Avenue.

Looking west (for the umpteenth time) from the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue.

Why is it that I take so many bleeping photos looking west from the 1400 bock of West Broadway Avenue?

Partly it’s because I spend too much time in the McDonald’s in that block and partly because stuff happens while I’m in that McDonald’s.

But honestly? Much of the blame rests squarely on the concrete pad at the eastbound Number 9 Boundary bus stop, on the south side of the block.

The slightest bit of rain—like the slight bit that we had at 5:30 p.m. Sunday (February 28)—and that pad of concrete turns into a funhouse mirror that I find irresistible.

At this particular corner of the world, a shiny, wet slab of concrete has so much to reflect upon.

Some readers may be wondering why I don’t focus more effort on getting a life with interests beyond mere wet concrete, while other may wonder why the concrete is there, in the middle of an asphalt road, to begin with. I can at least answer the latter question.

Preventing buses from making unnecessary waves

Asphalt is a kind of cement—being an aggregate of gravel and thick tar—but unlike concrete, asphalt never truly hardens.

A fully loaded three-axle articulated bus can weigh an estimated 32.5 tons! Under the repetitive stopping and starting of such weight, the sluggishly fluid asphalt at a bus stop is slowly pushed and prodded to form ridges and waves—what the Toronto Star is fond of calling “bus knuckles“.

These “knuckles” are a bumpy inconvenience to the buses that cause them but they can be somewhat more trouble for small cars to negotiate and they can be downright dangerous obstacles to cyclists—I can tell you!

Covering an area with concrete can be a third to half again as expensive as covering it with asphalt, so cities like Vancouver are selective. Only at bus stops that show the most serious and repeated ridging is the asphalt replaced with non-reinforced concrete pads—like wide sections of sidewalk.

That just tends to make them all the more special in my eyes. Click the image to enlarge it.

From → Fairview

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