Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mind the gap - A legacy of chaos?

The London underground fondly revered as the tube, is one of the oldest and most extensive in the world. It therefore strikes me as odd that, the brilliant minds of British engineering would rather have the train driver shout "mind the gap" at every stop than correct this small difference in height between the platform and the train. In the US any slight injury, resulting from tripping over the gap despite the warning would trigger multi million dollar lawsuits against the city. How do the disabled, cope with this small inconvenience?
I noticed only the stations on the west side of the city provide, the most access for the disabled. I guess they just work around the system or accept their inability to reach some parts of the city as life’s portion.
The global legacy, from the British colonial empire, also bears this whole mark of intentionally left gaps. From the gaps in political and territorial integrity passed on to independent India that even, today are still the cause of sectarian violence and insurgencies, to the daily chaos of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict rooted still in the gaps the British left in their creation of the geo-political system for that region.
In Zambia, that infamous image of the chaos of countless blue and white painted minibuses, all trying to get out of the poorly planned road system of Lusaka town center at peak time, comes to mind. Outer London, like Lusaka has plenty land to spare, how could the planners have failed to anticipate a population increase or at the very least the prospect of wide vehicles.
I guess this explains why those early sailors from England and Europe that founded America, setup from the very beginning a system that is fundamentally different.
They must have been so irritated with the "mind the gap" philosophy, so much so they changed every thing from electricity, roads, trains, buildings, symbols, TV system, even the meaning of words.

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