Funny Maps and Fragmented Jurisdictions

Post date: Mar 6, 2012 2:31:09 AM

Kaid Benfield’s recent blog on fragmented borders in Belgium and the Netherlands is a funny look at how some medieval jurisdictional lines have survived into the 21st century. It’s somehow comforting to know that not all the ancient eccentricities of geography have been “reformed.”

I have just two thoughts to add – one on the light side, one more serious.

On the light side, anyone really interested in imagining the complexities of living in a place with confused and overlapping boundaries needs to read China Mieville’s novel The City and the City – where citizens can be “grosstopically” in two cities at once but officially only in one! It’s great fun!

Less fun is dealing with fragmented jurisdictions in the real world. All of us in the transportation planning world have had to deal with. One problem I’m chewing on now is – I think – pretty peculiar to New Jersey and Pennsylvania: small town centers (“boroughs”) surrounded by suburban “townships,” often leading to bad planning decisions in both jurisdictions. Maybe we should have a field trip to that sidewalk café in Baarle-Nassau (or Baarle-Hertog?) and mull the problem over a Belgian (or Dutch?) beer or two!