Signs?
December 26, 2007 6:15 PM   Subscribe

The number of accidents at one intersection dropped by 95 percent, from 200 a year to about 10... "You can't deny the numbers," he added. "Half the world is eager to see what's going to happen with this program."
Apparently, people in India can handle it. (Surely you saw this on Reddit?)
posted by jaronson (63 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm down with this!

I mean, seriously, there have been too many occasions when I've been stopped at a red light, there's no one for miles, and I just sit there thinking to myself, you know, "Am I a robot? Am I really unable to gauge whether this is a safe situation for me to proceed?" It's bullshit!

Other people, on the other hand...
posted by kbanas at 6:21 PM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


This would seriously cut into the opportunities for the cops on Cops to pull people over for traffic violations and subsequently bust them for drugs/alcohol during a search of the vehicle.
posted by bwg at 6:27 PM on December 26, 2007


This is an interesting notion, and has to do with moral hazard.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:34 PM on December 26, 2007


After spending a couple of years in Sicily, Italy growing up I have this intuitive belief that this can work for intersections and thoroughfares of the right size. I'd love to see this tried here in traffic-law-happy America.

For a more theoretical look at signal-less intersections, check out this 2004 research from the University of Texas simulating intersections mediated by communication between in-car computers (warning: Java applets):

Multiagent Traffic Management: A Reservation-Based Intersection Control Mechanism, Kurt Dresner and Peter Stone

(See in particular the link "Reservation System.")
posted by sdodd at 6:36 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


See also this article in Wired from 2004.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:41 PM on December 26, 2007


In Japan, in accidents between motorists and pedestrians or bicyclists, the motorist is always at fault, no matter what. If you're driving along and a kid darts out into traffic in pursuit of a ball, and you hit him, you are at fault. If a bicyclist swerves out into the middle of traffic, and you hit her, you are at fault.

Personally, I think it's a great great system.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:43 PM on December 26, 2007


It's an interesting concept, but what happens when people get comfortable driving in the area and are not on edge anymore?

Also, I'm just generally suspicious of any programs that has this thinking at its core,

"Generally speaking, what we want is for people to be confused," said Willi Ladner, a deputy mayor in Bohmte.
posted by jourman2 at 6:45 PM on December 26, 2007


I think that's one of the principles of the roundabout. Here in Quebec they made a few along northern highways approaching cities and it works pretty well because you know you have to slow down considerably to take them, but you're never quite standing still at the intersection. You're really forced to pay attention to what you're doing instead of sitting bored waiting for a light to turn. I wonder if it's the same in the UK & Europe, where the drivers are more used to them.
posted by clevershark at 6:50 PM on December 26, 2007


I think this can work in places where people generally accept the idea that motorists share the road with cyclists and pedestrians. A place where a driving license means that you actually took a driving course and understand the possible risks to other people around you. In other words, not anywhere I've ever been in the US. I mean, if people don't even slow down in pea soup fog or driving rain, why would they feel a need to be cautious just because there's no lines painted on the ground?

On preview: On a residential street I worked on in San Francisco, the stop signs at two or three four way intersections were taken out and replaced with roundabouts, with the assumption that people in cars would slow down and navigate carefully. Instead, they just barreled through ('round) the intersection. After a couple of months, the roundabouts were taken out and the stop signs replaced.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:58 PM on December 26, 2007


This would never work in the gun-toting/violence-is-the-answer-to-everything/YOUR INFRINGING ON MY COMFORT!!! mentality in America.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:59 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Generally speaking, what we want is for people to be confused"

I knew the Bush Administration was involved somehow.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:04 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think that's one of the principles of the roundabout.

Angled on-street parking has a similar effect: get the drivers out of their normal, mildly zoned-out automaton state and paying closer attention.
posted by mediareport at 7:14 PM on December 26, 2007


As I understand it, this slows driving speeds down substantially. Not a problem normally, but this could cause hopeless traffic jams in some places.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:17 PM on December 26, 2007


It's an interesting concept, but what happens when people get comfortable driving in the area and are not on edge anymore?

Bouts of Road Melancholy?
posted by hal9k at 7:18 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Judging by the amount of fresh human roadkill I have witnessed in India, I think your conclusion is flawed. Among the more dangerous things I have done in my life, traveling on the roads of India ranks right up there with heli-skiing, surfing the north shore of Maui, and eating the undercooked turkey I prepared for Thanksgiving in 1992.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:19 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, this sounds like a blood bath waiting to happen. You know how safe I'd feel having to walk around and just trust that people won't run my ass over? It'd be like a fucking war zone.
posted by puke & cry at 7:41 PM on December 26, 2007


This is how you know we'll never have flying cars.
posted by cashman at 7:44 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Instead of taking all the signs out, let's just replace all of them with the message "Beware!"
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 7:45 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile ...
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:45 PM on December 26, 2007


Yeah, I don't see this working after a few months/years when people are used to it. I live in Pennsylvania, notorious for its murderously unclear road signage, nonsensical motorway configurations, terrible surface quality, and sudden unpredictable construction. You can always tell when someone (even another Pennsylvanian) is not deeply familiar with the area, because they are driving "like an idiot" (i.e., somewhat slower than me). Since I've lived here quite awhile, I successfully drive something like 30 times faster than human synapses can conceivably react to new stimuli without being worried about it. Put me 100 miles away, and I will drive like a grandma.

I think the results of this sort of experiment would be the same, only moreso. Without clearly defined standards as to how to behave on the road, I think people would act even more arrogantly about their own comfort & convenience.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 7:47 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


If you tried this in Boston, the body count would be astounding.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:53 PM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


You know that Ron Paul would approve.
posted by horsemuth at 8:06 PM on December 26, 2007


Instead, they just barreled through ('round) the intersection. After a couple of months, the roundabouts were taken out and the stop signs replaced.

Who makes flat roundabouts? That could have been planned better.
posted by yath at 8:26 PM on December 26, 2007


This would work very well in America for about 80% of drivers. Unfortunately that last 20% would do some serious damage.

Notice that the whole "shared space" idea includes the word "shared". We Americans don't typically share. We give sometimes. We take a lot. But share? Not so much.
posted by JWright at 8:27 PM on December 26, 2007


what happens when people get comfortable driving in the area and are not on edge anymore?

I'd guess a rather dramatic increase in accidents, getting up to double the pre-change rate, at which point the people who came up with this idea will be pressed into service... as speed bumps.
posted by wendell at 8:33 PM on December 26, 2007


From the article: Especially in Germany, a rules-obsessed nation where people who dare to jaywalk can expect a loud scolding from other pedestrians, even if no cars are in sight.

Hyperbolic bullshit. I lived 5 years in Germany, people jaywalked all the time, and no one said a word. I wouldn't doubt this might be true in some places, but Germany is far from being one big homogeneous place. Then they also say "...no one expects Germany to shut down its famed autobahns anytime soon.", as if that had anything to do with the issue at hand.

SCDB: If you tried this in Boston, the body count would be astounding.

RTFA. Traffic engineers say it could lead to gridlock if introduced in high-traffic areas, such as large cities.

I think this would work in the sorts of places they describe. But then, I also found the narrow streets were conducive to slowing down and being more alert. It's interesting that the article said this system shouldn't cover more than a half-mile at a time. For that space, I think it'd be okay. More than that it would be very stressful.
posted by Goofyy at 8:33 PM on December 26, 2007


I think the difference between this idea and current areas with unclear signage and resultant dangerous roads (like synaesthetichaze's Pennsylvania) is that in the latter, drivers expect the signage to be clear and explanatory— if, as proposed by this plan, drivers never have any idea what to expect (and know it), therein lies the caution & ensuing slowing.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:42 PM on December 26, 2007


Well if they don't use stop signs now, what does that say about the intersection? That it was pretty one sided, and unnecessary. Otherwise people would or will complain they have to wait for too long, so more signs will be brought back...its unavoidable, unless you want a person at every corner..... Wait I have a great idea -- the construction- zone -theme-road! ;)
posted by uni verse at 8:49 PM on December 26, 2007


"Half the world is eager to see what's going to happen with this program."

Which half is which?

The places I've been where traffic isn't controlled... it's true there aren't as many accidents. But the ones that occur are more often than not really bad, fatal ones. And the flow of traffic isn't exactly orderly and free of chaos... quite the opposite.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:50 PM on December 26, 2007


That reservation system looks interesting, superficially, but the huge variety of unmodeled circumstances make it pretty useless in practice.

Speeds can change radically while traversing an intersection for many reasons: mechanical failure, loose cargo, wind gust, rodent, pedestrian. Also, it makes no accommodation for pedestrians or turning. What happens when unpredictable change in speed occurs (rodent on the road, pedestrian, loose cargo, mechanical problem)?

The pdf link is 404ing, so I can't see how they dealt with those possibilities.. Obviously you can fudge the safety margin, but without automated breaking systems it would be hopeless, and even with them, a sensible safety margin would be a big hit on throughput.

As for no traffic rules..
I think the theory is very useful, to inform design decisions, but.. Well, for example, in Toronto traffic where there is enough multi-use going on (say Queen Street West between Yonge and Spadina), you pretty much see the benefits of the no rules situation anyway. At Bloor and Walmer you used to see the same effect, but they've installed a stoplight to aid pedestrians crossing from Shopper's Drug Mart to Dominion. As far as I can see, it causes more trouble than it saves. Now you get plenty of light running and an expectation that pedestrians will obey signals, which seems like a recipe for disaster. At the same time, it also seems to have slowed car traffic - it has certainly slowed my traversal of that neighborhood on bicycle. Dumb!

On the other hand, I can't see many places that would benefit from a formalized 'no rules' zone.
posted by Chuckles at 8:57 PM on December 26, 2007


I almost forgot the modifications they made to St. George where it goes through the U of T campus.. They used to have a brilliant J-walking lane down the middle of the street (like a turning lane, but narrow). Helped students cross the road, and it relaxed the lane widths a little, which tends to help cyclists a lot when cars are passing. Now they've got a standard narrow lane separator and strange traffic calming measures like informal 'cross walks' that nobody knows what to do with (kind of "pedestrians can cross here, but they should yield to traffic' zones), and sections of cobbled pavement. It might be working better lately (since they installed the NΨ crossing?), but when they first redid the street, it was pure chaos.

Gotta love TorontoFilter :)
posted by Chuckles at 9:08 PM on December 26, 2007


what happens when people get comfortable driving in the area and are not on edge anymore?

wendell (and others): we don't need to guess, we can look it up and find that accident rates are down over two years in a couple places, which is certainly long enough for people to get comfortable. The results may not generalize to every location, but I'd be more inclined to trust actual data than people's guesses.

this could cause hopeless traffic jams in some places.

It may do that, but our current traffic systems seem to cause hopeless traffic jams in many places anyways. Not to mention that our cities are generally set up to be very hostile (and dangerous) to cyclists and pedestrians. I'd be happy if we could make things better for those groups, even if drivers end up moving slower.
posted by ssg at 9:39 PM on December 26, 2007


miss lynster: The places I've been where traffic isn't controlled... it's true there aren't as many accidents. But the ones that occur are more often than not really bad, fatal ones.

That's because the traffic snarls before it gets going fast enough to cause any major damage if any damage at all. The only truly terrible accidents I saw while living in the Philippines either involved too many people on a small motorbike or the few stretches where one could get up to a good 50 mile-an-hour clip.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:44 PM on December 26, 2007


Another recent article on shared space.
I both like and fear the concept.
posted by bassjump at 9:47 PM on December 26, 2007


Using the same logic we should all be encouraged to drive stoned. Seriously!

Now to convince the rest of the town burghers.

Mmmmm, burghers.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:58 PM on December 26, 2007


The shared space has to a certain degree been going on as long as I remember in NYC, with jaywalkers, pedestrians, pedal rickshaws, street vendors, bicyclists, delivery guys on bikes, rollerbladers, bike messengers, garment district rack walkers, literal street walkers, road repairers, cops on horses, horse drawn carriages, homeless people walking the wrong way up various avenues...all sharing the space together quite well.

That video of traffic in India is *exactly* one of the countless things I adore about India. Beautiful, hilarious, impossible, marvelous, people-oriented chaos that works. It made me get a rush of joy watching it, thank so much jaronson. Nice post.
posted by nickyskye at 10:08 PM on December 26, 2007


...the principles of the roundabout. Here in Quebec they made a few...

Edmonton used to have several, and they were roundabouts done right: a hundred feet across, two or three lanes wide. The citizens were used to them, the signage was clear, and they worked like a hot damn.

They removed them a decade or two back.

My town has, on the other hand, implemented a roundabout at what was a three-way stop with an acute angle. But the area was already developed, so they were limited in sizing it; thus it's only one lane wide, and one of the "sides" of the roundabout is do-able at speed, while the other two are slow; add to that a couple pedestrian crosswalks and a senile population who simply can not cope with change, and it's overall... well, it's not what a traffic circle should be, although I might argue that it's better than what we had before.

Anyhoo, the ideas and the research is out there. It's a shame the good stuff ends up being lost (Edmonton, I suspect to reclaim the land) and half-assed experiments end up being created (here, because of a shady politician) that give a bad name to the traffic circle concept.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 PM on December 26, 2007


I liked driving in Chicage, where the flow of traffic dealt sensibly with double-parked vehicles: the drivers seemed well aware of their environment and allowed traffic to tightly semi-merge to pass it without panicking about the speed. It flowed.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 PM on December 26, 2007


If you tried this in Boston, the body count would be astounding.

I think they already do this in Boston; the drivers have become immune.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:57 PM on December 26, 2007


I've only been to Boston once. I vividly remember having to duck into a doorway because someone tried driving on the sidewalk to get around traffic... not sure if that's normal there.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:22 PM on December 26, 2007


This wouldn't work in the US because one gormless kid would be smeared into a thin paste and some lawyer armed with a teary mom would win an enormously fat settlement from the town that dared to try it.

The way to regulate Americans is to bill them automatically. Put a standard assholometer in the car, send the results to the insurance company, and let the insurance company bill the driver. The faster you went (especially in relation to the local speed limit and traffic), the faster the meter would spin, but it would also check how often and how abruptly you stopped, started, swerved, and bounced, and how much you blew your horn.

If you drove at a reasonable speed for the road and time, kept your eyes open, kept a good distance between your car and the one in front, and were not an aggressive driver, your bill would be low. If you drove outside peak traffic times, your bill would be even lower. If you jackrabbited down the street twice as fast as you should, tailgating, dodging cars, stopping and starting abruptly, your bill would be very high. If you hit anything, you would be surrounded by police and emergency services, and billed for the cost of dispatching them. If you left your car at home, your account would be credited a share of the money coming in that day from all the drivers who went out when you didn't.
posted by pracowity at 12:04 AM on December 27, 2007


The way to regulate Americans is to bill them automatically.

Interesting idea. Unfortunately, it would encourage Americans to view speed as even more of a status symbol than it already is, given that people who can afford it would be the ones who drove badly and quickly. We certainly have that now, with speeding and parking tickets; I worked for a guy who parked illegally every day and just paid the tickets off en masse every month because he could afford to -- and the alternative for him would have been to walk less than a Chicago city block from ample legal parking.

As for the FPP idea, I should think that as people get used to the idea and to driving in those situations, the accident rate would likely rise again but hopefully not to the original levels (perhaps a look at rear-end accident data from the years prior to center-mounted brake lights being mandated in the US until the present.)
posted by davejay at 12:29 AM on December 27, 2007


In L.A., we shoot other drivers now. I can't imagine this would improve things.
posted by rednikki at 12:30 AM on December 27, 2007


Actually, thinking about it a bit more, I think the problem is that when cars first hit the roads, we were all confused and careful, but that time is long past. In a given lifetime (in 1st-world countries, anyway) the average person has precious little opportunity to kill another human being, and most of those options require an intentional effort and/or engaging in an activity that is commonly recognized by all as dangerous. By comparison (in the US, at least) driving is the direct cause of tremendous loss of life, yet it is something we do casually and with little regard for the potential for harm, because it is arguably not us (as the drivers) who are likely to be injured by our own actions.

So there's the moral hazard thing again -- if we all drove dangerous (to ourselves) cars, presumably we'd drive more safely because we would be putting ourselves at more risk, but now we're cushioned with so many crumple zones and airbags that when my 18-year-old nephew rolled (single-car accident) his new Toyota Camry less than a week after he received it as a gift, he walked away without a scratch and nobody was surprised. For which I am very, very grateful -- but would be even more pleased if he hadn't done it in the first place.

So if he'd paid for the car himself, would he have driven more safely? Perhaps if it had been an older car, or one without airbags and a good safety rating? No way to say; teenage kids can be reckless and stupid. So what can you do?

Not much, except make it much, much harder to get a license, and much, much harder to keep it.
posted by davejay at 12:38 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's probably worth noting that the town in question was first mentioned in print in 1074, according to the region's website. I think it's pretty safe to say that the town's road developed to accomodate the sort of free-for-all that they're just implemented. Just replace the cars with everything from livestock to carts and children. Small European towns just aren't designed for cars. They've grown for people, not automobiles, so giving the roads back to varied traffic makes sense.


American cities, (and most Australian ones, too, for that matter) have evolved more or less with the car. They're laid out to take advantage them. I think it would be foolish to implement this sort of thing on a road network designed pretty much entirely for cars.

Context is everything.
posted by Jilder at 2:35 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm curious how to best separate these islands of shared space from reserved-for-cars roads. As it goes, for many european cities that have old towns, old towns are practically like this: streets are too narrow for any real separation between cars and people, but old towns are either bordered or split by wider streets ruled by cars and normal traffic laws. For pedestrians, those streets are hostile and for drivers old towns are to be avoided as far as possible.

This proposed zone is different because it has more space, much better visibility and you probably won't assume that most of the pedestrians are tourists, so you except more from them. Still there is a danger of keeping the old old town/city mindset. You want the traffic in the zone to be alert, but not crawling or feeling as they shouldn't be there, or otherwise all cars use the normal streets to go around this challenging zone and more traffic appears under windows of those unfortunate who just happen to live outside this area. (Though this won't be a problem in proposed town with only 13,000 residents.)

If the city centers become too inhospitable for cars, then people who drive cars take even more destructive habits of doing their business in satellite areas, automarkets and usually driving longer distances to avoid difficult parts. What would save a lot -- and what has been impossible to add to old towns --, would be free, sufficient and easy parking in these areas, so that division between drivers and pedestrians wouldn't be so lasting: people would be encouraged to drive in and switch to their feet. Many entry points for cars, and make sure that the drivers won't be trapped in their cars once inside.
posted by Free word order! at 3:15 AM on December 27, 2007


Isn't this scheme in place to slow down non-resident drivers? From the article it seems that the initiative is meant to slow down trucks that go barreling through the town. In areas where this is not a concern and where locals would soon get used to the lack of traffic signage I wager accident rates will begin to steadily creep up.
posted by PenDevil at 4:19 AM on December 27, 2007


The way to regulate Americans is to bill them automatically.

I first read this as "The way to regulate Americans is to kill them automatically."

That would probably work too.
posted by languagehat at 6:38 AM on December 27, 2007


I first read this as "The way to regulate Americans is to kill them automatically."

"Please enter the Carousel."
posted by papercake at 6:54 AM on December 27, 2007


I think this is probably very effective for visitors and the opposite for drivers who go through there every day. Personally, the worst drivers in my neighborhood are the ones who live there. They're the ones flying through intersections, cutting corners, and speeding.
posted by notmydesk at 8:05 AM on December 27, 2007


It's not exactly unregulated, but I've seen something similar happen here in Wisconsin; pretty regularly after a snowfall, a car or snowplow will hit something that helps to regulate the traffic signals, forcing all the controlled intersections to revert to flashing-four-way stops. I'm always happy to see this, because invariably it means that I'm going to get through it in a a fraction of the time it would normally take. People in this area seem to be better suited to wait a turn, then go driving.

These are medium traffic areas, so I don't think it would work well in a high volume area, but it seems to let cars, bikes, and pedestrians get through pretty quick.
posted by quin at 9:02 AM on December 27, 2007


You know how safe I'd feel having to walk around and just trust that people won't run my ass over?

And this would be different from today how? Most stop signs and traffic lights don't have metal arms / tractor beams to enforce rule following.
posted by BaxterG4 at 9:46 AM on December 27, 2007


I like this concept, as long as it stays in Europe. There probably aren't many towns of the 10k - 20k population that would warrant such a system and certainly larger cities would see too much carnage.

I do however like the two and three lane roundabouts that have been implemented in my area recently. They make traffic flow much smoother than the lights or stop signs that were in place prior.
posted by curlyelk at 10:06 AM on December 27, 2007


I have seen this work to some degree in Mexico City, Boston, and Napoli. They already do this but they still keep up the pretense with signs and traffic lights as props.
posted by mds35 at 10:07 AM on December 27, 2007


You're lucky, quin. In my town a broken traffic light is cause for a clusterfuck of great magnitude.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on December 27, 2007


I've been to a few countries where a lot of people drive without really having licenses. In some countries, people can actually buy licenses and do. You'll ask your driver what the lines on the road mean, and they'll say, "What lines? Oh, that? I don't know." I've been told that there are two main rules: 1) The person in front of you has the right of way & 2) It doesn't matter how they got in front of you. Sometimes there are stoplights and absolutely nobody pays any attention to them, it's all just merging cars in every direction. In small towns it's fine... there's not much congestion. But the big cities are not exactly known for being traffic free.

I'd say of all the things I've ever seen, the one that freaked me out the most was that people in Cairo will turn their headlights on and off to save petrol. So you're in a taxi, driving along with lights on, and suddenly you're driving in the dark... without slowing down. Then the lights come on again and there are cars you're avoiding. And then the lights are off again. Meanwhile the other cars are doing the same thing so you won't see other cars and suddenly Voila! A car in the way! I was like, "Could we just leave the headlights on until I get out of the car, please?" But the driver didn't really get why I was asking because this was how he was used to driving.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:28 AM on December 27, 2007


You'll ask your driver what the lines on the road mean, and they'll say, "What lines? Oh, that? I don't know."

I encountered this when a friend let me drive her car in Madrid. I asked her what the zigzagged lines meant at the intersections and it took her a second to see them. Then she said and I quote: "Hm. [long pause] Hm. [long pause] I do not know what those lines mean. I do not think they matter."
posted by damnthesehumanhands at 12:00 PM on December 27, 2007


Put a standard assholometer in the car, send the results to the insurance company, and let the insurance company bill the driver.

Progressive already offers you the option to do this, somewhat. You agree to mount thing thing in your car that measures and records your speed and acceleration/braking, and at the end of the year you can see whether the machine thinks you're a "safe" driver or not. If you scored well, you can then send your results to Progressive for a pretty substantial drop in your insurance rates. I'm not sure what happens if the machine determines that you're an unsafe driver - the service rep who told me about the program assured me that you always get to see your data before choosing whether to send it to Progressive, but I can't help thinking that NOT sending the data in would look bad.
posted by vytae at 12:01 PM on December 27, 2007


Interesting idea. Unfortunately, it would encourage Americans to view speed as even more of a status symbol than it already is, given that people who can afford it would be the ones who drove badly and quickly.

Just adjust the fines for the household income of the driver or the value of the vehicle or whatever you think balances things so no one will be able to afford a ticket more than anyone else. It's not as if it's the 1940s and someone would have to calculate everything by hand.
posted by pracowity at 12:03 PM on December 27, 2007


Glasgow is somewhat notorious for ignoring red lights anyway. It's a combination of brain-dead phasing, compounded by them increasing the all-on-red times to compensate. This would just make things better, I think -- the light phasings as they are now are pretty much counter-productive to traffic movement. (It turns out the guy in charge of planning our city roads used to work as a line planner for a train company. Explains *a lot*).

At Christmas, I'm taking it one step further. Sod sitting at an utterly empty junction for four hours waiting for this light to go green, just in time for that one up ahead to turn red. Vroom I go.
posted by bonaldi at 12:48 PM on December 27, 2007


Norway does it that way, pracowity. And it does, indeed, result in wealthy people being dinged at a rate that does make them sit up and take notice of their misdeed.

people in Cairo will turn their headlights on and off to save petrol

Wow. The savings must amount to whole pennies a year!

Does it not occur to them that turning the lights on and off causes them to fail more rapidly, thus negating any petrol savings?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:51 PM on December 27, 2007


Yeah, I thought that too.

But hey, these are people who live on like $100 a month sometimes so I guess those invisible pennies matter. I also witnessed someone utilizing a taxi's (unworn) seatbelt buckles to open bottles of beer for the road (not everyone's a good Muslim). So, I just figured it was a cultural experience and that I wasn't destined to die in a car accident in Cairo. (Fortunately, I was right.)
posted by miss lynnster at 3:29 PM on December 27, 2007


Oh, I love the flashing red lights! The town next to me changes all/most of its traffic lights to blinking red after a certain hour at night. Works great.
posted by fermezporte at 6:59 AM on December 28, 2007


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