This post has been in my “Drafts” folder since July. I’ve been waiting to shoot video of some roadside chickens that I know live on Branciforte Road just north of Santa Cruz, California.
Whenever I go that way with my camera, however, they’re never to be seen. Maybe they got smooshed by passing traffic?
I know next to nothing about raising poultry, but I’ve seen these front yard free range chickens a few times while cycling through the countryside and they somehow seem to know to stop at the pavement edge.
I hoped to catch video of the chickens with traffic buzzing past in close proximity. I never got that opportunity, but today’s viral video of ducks and her duckling crossing a busy Toronto highway fills the bill exactly. As you can see, Mrs Duck doesn’t know to stop at the pavement’s edge.
Why did the ducklings cross the road? Probably to get to home or food or to escape predators or because of habitat destruction.
Ducks and chickens aren’t the only critters to fall a fowl of fast traffic. Over on Google Plus, several cyclists use the hashtag #zombieraccoon when discussing bike issues because of the prevalence of creepy dead woodland creatures on the road. It’s not unusual to run into gruesome sights like this in my part of the country. I saw this lovely deer on El Rancho Road in Santa Cruz County about five weeks ago.
I write all of this as an introduction to Sarah in San Francisco, who brilliantly compares designing for chickens to designing roads for people in her introductory essay at Soft Hit Post.
Like a child drawing a chalk line through an ant hill and expecting the ants to keep themselves to one side or the other, planners regularly slap multi lane highways straight through the middle of long-established villages and then watch in amazement, brooding and clucking as not only chickens, but all manner of other personalities flock to the new highways in droves, seemingly unable ever to finally decide which side of the road they want to be on.
It’s no secret traffic engineers’ lives would be a lot easier if chickens would just keep to whichever block they were on when the roads were installed, straying from it only while donning the clever disguise of an automobile.
And what is a “soft hit post”? Soft hit posts are those flexible plastic poles stuck on the side of the road to keep auto drivers from straying out of their lanes. Except, of course, they do stray, and the posts are hit, and because of the sheer inevitability of these straying motorists, U.S. Federal law says posts along the side of the road must break away and not have lethal consequences for these straying chicken slayers because accidents are never ever the motorists’ fault. This is also why it’s illegal to reinforce rural mailboxes with concrete. Somehow, though, solid metal and concrete posts are perfectly okay to restrict entry at bicycle trails, but I digress. Sarah became a human soft hit post when she was hit from behind and launched in unanticipated directions.
So now, she offers at a little feedback from a soft hit post.