Saturday, October 10, 2009

Traffic lights - are they necessary?

I recently saw an item on a Dutch town that has now removed all their traffic lights and traffic signals. It is possibly Drachten, which was in the news a few years ago for removing most of their traffic lights, but I can't quite recall the name.
The idea seems to be the buzz of the last few years in traffic safety. The discovery is that removing traffic lights actually makes roads safer for all, with people taking more responsibility for their actions. The traffic guys in my city clearly don't seem to be aware of this - despite London and New York trying it out (fairly big, trendy cities I would have thought that would be worth checking how they do things).
No. Here it seems to be more traffic? Quick bung another set of traffic lights in, that'll fix it!
The other morning I was driving into town and a set of traffic lights was down. It was at a major intersection with five roads coming into it. I approached with intrepidation how was this going to work?
Well it turned out very well, everyone was looking out for each other. I had to come back through this intersection on my way home too and it was still going smoothly. It made me think of the town in the Netherlands, of name uncertain, - they are onto something! My wait was much less than previously at this intersection and it felt more interactive. It felt we were all watching out for each other instead of just being intent on our own journey and how quickly we could get there.
I hope the traffic people here take note of these overseas trends or the younger people coming up get to try it this stuff. The sticking traffic lights in everywhere is just so frustrating and it would seem makes roads no safer.
I did a bit of googling to try and find the name of the Netherlands town - which I didn't but I found this site. I love the unbelievable amount of information on anything on the web. From this site I learnt that the new LED traffic lights (which I had thought were quite a cool idea if you were going to have traffic lights) are not hot enough to melt snow so if it snows a lot you can't see the lights. Another reason just to pull 'em out.


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5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.