tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

On electronic control of natural instinct

This morning, driving along Aotea Quay, I came to the set of traffic lights where the traffic normally backs up - the one where the trucks come on and off the wharf, and the freight trains cross from the station to the docks. Oddly, the traffic wasn't backed up at all. Weird, I thought. Then I realised the traffic lights weren't working.

And instead of the mad free-for-all that you'd expect, people in two lanes of rush-hour traffic were stopping, in unison, to let trucks through when they came to the intersection. The result? Traffic being stopped for the time it takes for one truck to cross, then getting going again. Instead of the usual red light that stops traffic for several trucks to cross, plus an extra 5-10 seconds for the light to change to green, causing a tailback of 20-30 cars.

So here's a case of the regulation of people's behaviour 'for our own safety' causing inconvenience and time wastage for the very people it's trying to protect. The lights holding people up make the heavy traffic worse by concentrating it at each stoppage point. With no lights to tell them to stop, people were going when it was safe, and showing consideration to other motorists, because they weren't being held up and they had time to stop - "Oh, I'll only have to wait for one truck, that's fine, off you go."

Amazing what happens when people are given the power to manage their own safety, and the safety of a group. Golly! Instant teamwork for better efficiency, with little to no communication necessary!

Yes, I know, it would only take one or two people to be selfish and not give way, for the whole pattern to fall down. And it's those people for whom the rigid controls are created. Unfortunately the rest of us get dragged in with them, and controlled whether we are capable of self control or not.

And I do wonder, when the light goes orange, and I try to get through the intersection before it goes red, whether I'd be in such a hurry if I had the choice whether to stop or not, and if I did stop there'd only be one or two cars to let through instead of 20. Does the control create the lack of consideration in drivers?

Or am I just being altruistic again?

On a similar note - to all the people who hit the button repeatedly when coming up to a light-controlled pedestrian crossing..

You only need to hit the button once. That triggers the light system to 'know' there is someone waiting, and insert the 'pedestrian crossing' into the sequence of traffic lights. If you don't hit the button, the lights will rotate through their sequence without including the pedestrian crossing. Once the button is pushed, the green man will appear in due course. If you cross regularly at the same set of lights, you will learn the pattern and know when it will be your turn. Hitting the button repeatedly does not make the lights think there are 20 people waiting and therefore they should hurry up. It just makes you look like a dick.

Other things: It's national coming out day in the US. Apparently you're supposed to come out. OK. I am what you'd probably call heteroflexible. I'm into guys, but have had massive sexually based crushes on women occasionally through my life, on which I have never acted because these women have all been hetero. I have kissed a girl once, it was nice.

Sinfest has been getting funnier lately, you should go look.

*cough* Coffee tonight at Fidels. Not sure about fire dancing. Fire Rain dancing, anyone?
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