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