Monday, 21 May 2007

Please! Walk on the Grass

Most gardens or parks you go to, especially in Asia, will probably have a sign which says "Keep off the Grass". In the case of GuangZhou they actually put up a "No Trespassing" sign, with a barricade for good measure. So it was a pleasant surprise when I visited the Toronto Island Park (in Toronto, Canada of course) and I encountered this sign which pleads with you to walk on the grass.

Which brings me to the USM Main Campus in Penang. We have a lovely avenue-like road from the Bukit Gambir gate near the sports stadium leading to the centre of the campus lined with huge mature Christmas trees on both sides. The problem is that when the "planners" decided to plant those trees more than 10 years ago they did plan for it to grow. So now the trees are blocking the pedestrian walkway running along the side of the road. Now that's poor planning or design on 2 counts. The first of course is not planning for the increase in size of the trees. The other poor design is constructing the pedestrian walkways right next to the road. OK, I know, that's what we do throughout the whole country but pedestrian safety considerations would dictate that there should be a buffer between the vehicular traffic and the walkers. So you see the picture (on the left) with the poor lady walking on the road pavement itself. This has led to complaints, especially from student bodies, concerned for the safety of the pedestrians. Some have lobbied for the trees to be removed while others want them to be retained because it has taken so long for us to nurture them to such beautiful trees.

My preference is to remove the pedestrian walkways running along the side of the road and direct the people traffic to the inside where its really quite lovely with lots of shade and green green grass to calm you down (see picture below). I know the maintenance people will have nightmares and when it rains it will probably get mashy. And I hope that they don't built a paved walkway here. Let's try something a little more eco-friendly.

Meanwhile, please enjoy walking on the grass. Its good for your soul. Really.

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