Saturday, January 19, 2013

Totally off topic

Don't you just love the logic of traffic engineers! I remember years ago, when I lived in Reading in the UK, a new traffic engineer installed a rash of mini roundabouts, (lovingly nicknamed cowpats), one way roads and traffic calming measures. The city's traffic crawled to a snail's pace while tempers rose. Over a period of time, many of the expensive alterations were quietly removed.

Here in the USA walking is not a favorite pastime and traffic does not always favour the pedestrian. On major junctions there are pedestrian lights but the traffic does not entirely stop to allow safe crossing. Because it is legally possible for vehicles to make a right turn on a red light, it means that vehicles can cross the pedestrian route even if it says 'Walk'. I guess its just safer to cross at that point!

Now finally getting to the point, there is one wonderful spot I frequently run past with the most  amazing pattern of crossings. Its a fairly minor road but wide and so traffic is faster than most residential roads. At this crossroads, there are three roads bisected by pedestrian crossings. Great, although American drivers seem to ignore them anyway. But the fourth road has short barriers, maybe a couple of metres long directing pedestrians to use the other three crossings.

Now are pedestrians really going to walk three sides of this junction to cross one? What's the logic? Can you imagine the traffic committee debating this long and hard and deciding on this amazing logic! Did the budget run out? And really is a short stretch of railing really going to deter anyone? Its a nonsense but it always makes me smile when I run past.


  1. I do love the logic of traffic engineers, its good to see they are equally stupid on the other side of the Atlantic as they are on this one!

  2. Traffic circles are all the rage here in the wild west, but they seem to work - somehow. But too much traffic calming, at the expense of movement! Esp unsynchronized traffic lights!