Sunday, April 21, 2024

thoughts on red

Sometimes when I'm sitting in my car at a red light which is not showing an inclination to turn green, even though nobody's coming in the opposite direction, I fantasize about honking my horn.

This would, of course, cause any driver in front of me to turn around and say "Hey, I can't move. The light's red."

And I'd say, "I know. I'm not honking at you. I'm honking at the light."

And they'd say, "The light? The light can't hear you."

And I'd say, "I'll just have to honk louder, then."

Why this level of frustration? The pointlessness of the light remaining red when we're waiting there and nobody's coming on the cross street, plus having arrived at the light just as it turns red, having been temptingly green all during our approach (and thus letting through all the cars that had been waiting all that time on the cross street as nobody came in our direction), plus the fact that we arrived at the light when we did because of the previous light's equally pointlessly long red.

Isn't this wasteful of both drivers' time and of fuel?

I once met a traffic engineer and posed this problem, and asked, in essence, whether it was incompetence or malevolence that was responsible. His answer amounted to "It's incompetence," but I know it can be malevolence too, because I once read a city traffic report that suggested deliberately mistiming the lights on a street the city didn't want drivers to use as a through artery, presumably to keep them away through raw frustration.

No comments:

Post a Comment