Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Time and traffic lights

Imagine a sunny day, no breeze, the heat coming up from the asphalt.. and yourself in a fancy car, waiting for that red light to switch to green. And that red light seems to last forever.

Are you in?
Now imagine how different it could be if you knew exactly how long you will be waiting for that green light to show up. Awareness always makes a difference: being aware, you can choose what to do with that time, you can still think of it as your time.

A couple of weeks ago I was driving when I saw it! (Ale even came across a pedestrian one in Amsterdam.)

So that definitely is a “Yes we can!”. There’s no excuse now. When some small detail like that can add sooooo much to the design of something, there’s no reason for ignoring it.

PS: As a plus, the pedestrian one was powered by a solar panel!


  1. A simpler version of those is the one that turns the yellow light on before the green light. The problem here is surely scale economy, but it's also cultural: in some countries, the counter - or the yellow light - could turn the traffic light change into a race, with cars starting at yellow / one second before to "win".
    It already happens in more "educated" countries... wonder what could happen in competitive ones, like Italy. ;)

    The problem here is that a countdown can trigger competition, and due to this it should be used with care. :)

  2. Competition is a cultural/personal thing, you are right.
    But there's no need of anything else to trigger it on traffic lights: you can always look at when the light on the other streets gets yellow to know your is getting green (that's what I often do myself).

    The advantage in having a counter would be that you would know how much time you have left. Not only when you need to get ready, but what you can do in the meantime as well - I think of it especially with loooooong lasting traffic lights (I know of some) - and whether it's the case to turn off the engine.