More New Urbanism

Well-timed for National Bike Month, another New Urbanism piece and this one is focused on how destructive cul-de-sacs are. In the years I’ve been riding in Seattle, Lake Washington Blvd (a standard Seattle-area bike route) went from a quiet road to a highway when I5 is gridlocked. Farmland I’d ride out and back to is covered in houses and the State widens roads just to have them fill up with cars.

Slow Down

Going out for coffee in Girona, we noticed that no one got “coffee to go.” They ordered a drink and then sat down to drink it.


Bettie About Town Point is that part of a new urban community isn’t just less cars, road diets, and biking to work. We need to shift our thinking and slow down. An adjustment I made riding Bettie was that bike is slow and low. It takes double the time to get anywhere and I eventually got used to it.

If we’re to depend less on cars, we’ve got to eventually accept that we can’t zip around everywhere. Ride to get coffee and take a few minutes to enjoy it.

Hat tip to Seattle PI.


Regarding the coffee stop:

Going out for coffee in Girona, we noticed that no one got “coffee to go.” They ordered a drink and then sat down to drink it.

In European latinate cultures (I lived in Italy for 3+ years, but I believe it is very similar in Spain), our American idea of most things “to go,” and most especially coffee, is to my mind rightfully considered ridiculous.

First of all, no one there would dream of debasing a perfectly good coffee by enlarging it to gargantuan proportions with enormous quantities of milk and myriad other additives like caramel, whipped cream, or, god forbid, Whipped Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Cappuccino. [The latter, by the way, clocks in at a whopping 540 calories, according to Starbucks’ website.]

Secondly, the act of “taking” a coffee (Italians use that verb for coffee consumption, not “having” or “drinking” or “getting”) is as much of a social experience as a beverage one. So the “to go” bit would quickly rob the taking of one of its most pleasurable aspects.

The only time I ever saw an espresso or cappuccino leave an Italian cafe was when a nearby shop owner (like a hair salon) wanted a coffee for one of its customers. And then the cafe owner would prepare a normal espresso, cover the cup with a beautifully designed little cap, put it on a silver tray, and hand carry it over to the salon. Totally charming to observe.

Anyway, enjoy the cafe tradition!


Yep and even at roadside gas stations with cafes, the drivers get out and have their Espresso.

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