Most roads around the town I live in don’t have sidewalks. Pedestrians hug the edges of the roads hoping that the traffic gods will grant them safe passage through the streets. One day as I was wandering about, I saw what looked like a sidewalk in the distance. My eyes opened wide at the elusive sight and like a wolf on the hunt, I bee-lined it to get my first glimpse of a Taiwanese sidewalk.
Upon getting there, I was pleased to see that it was indeed real, and not just a mirage in the mind of a sidewalk starved foreigner. But there were a couple of things wrong. First, it was about a foot off the ground – no way you could pop a bicycle on and off the sidewalk. And second, it had this running down the middle:
Weird…right? What’s with the bumpy stones all over the place? It couldn’t be for deterring bikes on the sidewalk – the 1 foot rise takes care of that. Simply ornamental? Naah! Too much effort and money. So what then?
Turns out, these stones are to massage your feet as you walk. I’ve been told that walking slowly, barefoot on here is good for the muscles in your feet and overall posture because it connects with and stimulates pressure point in your feet.
So I tried it, and you know what? It hurt like a bitch. Maybe I’m too fat or I can’t walk shaolin style across these rocks, but the last thing I felt was soothing massage. My pressure points were screaming for me to stop.
I’d imagine it would take months of walking on these things to toughen your feet up enough to gain any benefit. Also, with the hot sun, I’m sure the stones get nice and scorching to give you that toasty feeling. Besides all this, walking barefoot on a public sidewalk (think stray dogs) just doesn’t seem hygienic to me. To top it off, even with shoes it’s an uncomfortable walk – AND – it ruins your shoes. Which city planning genius thought this would be a good idea? Not for me, thank you.
Seriously, Taiwan – way to ruin a perfectly good sidewalk with pebbles. But I do have to admit, it looks very decorative.
Ah well…back to the roads I go.