New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm Throwing Them Away

I was a little disappointed to learn that according to a 2007 British Study of walking in 32 cities around the world, New York did not top the list of fastest walkers. Singapore bested the list, New York came in at number eight. Nonetheless, we got some fast walkers and we did come in fastest in the USA.

New York City is a fascinating smorgasbord of things to see and walking is a joy. However, I have walked daily to my current office location for 21 years. So at times I do get a bit bored and my mind wanders. I have always liked numbers and playing with them, so inevitably, I ponder the numbers associated with streets, blocks and walking.

I have often timed my walking. In Manhattan, there are 20 north-south blocks to the mile. A brisk pace is about 45 seconds per block. Do the math and that is a 15-minute miles or about 4 miles per hour. The pace of some New Yorkers is astounding. On a stroll last night, following a much shorter woman, I tried to match her pace. It was quite an effort and I am sure she was walking in excess of 4 miles per hour.

I have to walk through or around Washington Square Park to go to work. Having been a lover of mathematics, the prospect of not taking the diagonal is anathema. But how much distance and time do we save? I have about 15 minute walk to work, which has given me ample time over many years to do a myriad of calculations related to walking distances and times in the city. Doing these in your head is tedious and much longer than using aids but the time does pass more rapidly.

Washington Square Park is about .5 miles around. So the distance around the park (one length and one width) walking to my destination is half the circumference or .25 miles. The park is about twice as long as it is wide. So if A is the short side, 2A is the long. The total distance around is 6A. A is therefore .50/6 or 1/12 mile.

Now Pythagoras says: a2 + b2= c2. So now we have one side as 2A and one as A, so(1/12)2+ (2* 1/12)2 = c2. Solving this is rather simple - 1/12 2 is approx. .0069. 2/12 2 is approx. .0278. so c2= .0069 + .0278 = .0347. So, c= 0.0347 . or .187 miles.* So we save: .25 miles - .187 miles = .063 miles, or a little more than one standard north-south Manhattan block. So we save about 1/16 of a mile or one minute walking.

In Sirens of Convenience, I told about a fictional New York City character created by a friend who throws money away. At times, in a similar spirit of reckless abandon, I flaunt time and distance. Perhaps I stroll leisurely, enjoy the walk and just let that woman move ahead of me. With disdain for the diagonal, I'll just walk around the park. Distance? Time? I don't care about distance or time. I throw them away. In fact, here's 1/16 of a mile and one minute. I'm throwing them away :)

*Square roots can be done in one's head, but it is extremely tedious and requires good memory. Just start with a guess and through an iteration process, you can come quite close fairly quickly. Just don't get hit in traffic doing the calculations.

Related Posts: Steaming Masses of New York, Number 1, got math?, Sirens of Convenience, Keuffel and Esser, Urban Road Warrior, Babies, Winter Walks, Dead Man Walking, Math Midway, 1560, Huddled Masses


Leslie said...

Well you know I'll never be able to follow your calculations (although they do make you look brilliant!), but the conundrum of which route to take is one of my greatest entertainments in NYC. Do I take the fastest path, the one filled with more trees/gardens, perhaps the one that takes me past the hippest cafes, restaurants, clothing shops, galleries? Or do I choose the one with the least amount of people/car traffic so that I will not be bombarded by so much frenetic energy? Planning daily travel strategy, allowing for spontaneous alternatives, and discovering new delights along the way are what keep me a grateful and dedicated citizen of New York City.

Mary P. said...

Bored, were you?

time traveler said...

Brian-You seem like you where bored to the max!!If it was me I would be admiring all the beautiful women and their strides and I'd do my best to eliminate those equations so I would have room to memorize any phone numbers I might be lucky enough to know-important stuff!! said...

If the women whom you were following became aware of your trying to match her pace, would her locamotive tradjectories still be Pathagorian or, fear based?

Brian Dubé said...

Leslie - a true New Yorker!

Mary - a little bored and a little too obsessed with numbers.

Time Traveler - perhaps a better use of number memorization.

mfontana1 - I didn't try to match for long and it was a straight line. No diagonals and no fear :)

Thérèse said...

You remind me of the famous radio station at 6pm "first let's do the numbers!" ...
While walking to work in Paris (quite a long time ago) each one of us pedestrians knew who was late and who was early... by who we were seing and who we were not... Is it the case for you??

Corey said...

Your Washington Square example reminded me of a story: I'm a Bostonian who went to RPI up in Troy for computer science. On a trip down to the City, I had to explain the "Manhattan Distance" concept us software engineers study to my long-time New Yorker friends.

The Manhattan Distance being the fact that if you need to travel along streets and avenues, it is no better to walk "diagonally" than in one straight line than another. In practice, you go with whatever light is in your favor when you get to the next intersection. A shortcut across a park then, becomes a wonderful change!

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

A beautiful shot, Brian! I love the motion blur of the pedestrians. We love to walk when we're in New York. Distances seem like nothing because there's always something to see. Living in Chicago, we walk fast too, so we pretty much blend in with the flow in Manhattan. Once, my brother was visiting us from small town Mississippi. He said of our walking that if he walked that fast back home, he'd get arrested.