Blog Post #528 Cobblestones


Cobblestones?  Really Bruce? You must have run out of topics to write on.

We recently took a Rhine River Cruise. So many of the historic places had cobblestone streets.  Even as I grew up, many streets were paved with bricks. But then concrete and asphalt took over.  

In one of our stops, the street was closed as two men were putting in new cobblestones.  From the link, cobblestones can be laid in patterns and can really look pretty. In these quaint towns where tourism is important, cobblestones are part of the ambiance.  There are arcs, designs with different colors (almost like mosaics), and yet functional to keep people from walking on dirt paths.

But, after several days of walking on cobblestone streets, I found I preferred concrete sidewalks.  The areas of Europe that we traveled through have a lot of bicycle riders. I think a smooth sidewalk or asphalt sidewalk would be definitely more comfortable than the cobblestones.  Every time a cyclist would go over a crack between stones, they would get a little bump. Now, they are probably used to that, and they might even favor that (because of past usage). But, for me, on a bike, I’d prefer smooth cycling.

Likewise for walking.  We walked on the cobblestones and occasionally you might also hit a crack.  One lady in our group had a walker and it was harder for her to get around because of the roughness of the cobblestones.

But, in the middle ages, paths were dirt and when it rained, the paths got muddy.  Given the choice of cobblestones or dirt, the cobblestones worked out. With good cobblestone masons to lay the stones in interesting patterns or even just to get the walkway above the dirt and mud was a good thing.

Progress goes on.  From dirt roads to stony roads, to cobblestones and now to paved roads, progress has been made.  While the cobblestones have a nice look and feel to them, the smoothness of current paving techniques makes travel better.

And so it goes – cobblestones are outdated, like many things in the 20th century. Do you have a television over 10 years old?  Outdated! Do you have a computer more than 6 years old? Outdated! Do your kitchen appliances interface with an Internet of things (IoT) device like the Echo or Alexa?  If not, they are outdated!

So, what will be next for roads?  Roads that will automatically move the way you want to go?  Roads that are designed for autonomous cars and will have sensors and cameras to aid the self-driving vehicles?  Maybe at some time in the distance future, sidewalks will be gone as we all have our personal jetpacks and once we are out of the door, we won’t be walking!!

What do you think?  Does technology continue to advance – like cobblestone paving?  What areas of our lives will NOT be affected by technology? Not many!


Posted by Bruce White

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