Traffic Lights

8 01 2010

I have been in Baltimore for over 2 years, and in that time I still haven’t learnt to cross the road safely. I don’t think it is me, I am reasonably intelligent and can put one foot in front of the other and chew gum at the same time. So, it must be the system. Let me explain my confusion.

In the UK we use a system where the traffic lights show a green man to allow you to cross the road. Once the system has decided you’ve had enough time to cross the red man appears and flashes for a few seconds to warn you not to cross or to speed up your crossing. The red man then goes solid to inform you not to cross.

In Baltimore, the green man appears for a very brief moment before the red man flashes, for a long time, before going red. In other words, the red man flashes for what seems LONGER than the green man is shown. So, how do you know when to cross? How do you know how long the red man has been flashing for? So many times I’ve started to cross on a flashing red man and then had cars beeping their horns at me because the man is now a solid red.

Fortunately, in some places they decided to add a count down system, so you know that you have 20 seconds to cross the road. But, they really don’t need to do this if the system was that the red man flashed for as long as it would take an able bodied person to cross the road. Then you’d know that if the lights are flashing and you’ve not started to cross, then you do not have enough time, and if you are crossing and the lights start flashing then you’d better get moving.

Because the system is so rubbish, no one cares and people cross whenever anyway. I am always amazed that people think they wont get run over. And why do they always walk so slowly when they cross the road? It is like they are purposefully trying to annoy you before you get to work.

Wendy-Ann is used to the system now, and she often charges across the street when the light is on red or the man is flashing. I on the other hand will stand there sheepishly looking lost and confused. Maybe I will learn one day, but in the meantime I’d rather not get run down by some of the terrible drivers they have here. That will be another post.




One response

14 01 2010
Lem Usita

that’s brilliant. the system is rubbish. i think we all think (in this country anyway) that pedestrians always have the right of way. it goes back to that self-centered, individualistic, entitled American way. at least you got people walking around where you live. i don’t live in a walking city.

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