Monday, September 15, 2014



Too many of us spend too much time in traffic dreaming of a hell where traffic engineers run like hamsters inside giant wheels while carbon monoxide blows in their faces.
Since the engineers, aided and urged on by politicians who want all their activists living in areas protected from through traffic, are impervious to the lesson inherent in the axiom that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and believe the greatest invention in the world is a maze surrounded by construction, anything sensible that I might propose will be lost on them.
If the trafficrats aren't spending our money on a multitude of signs, so much so that you think it is possible for a city to get measles, they are sentenced to remedial courses in driving motorists mad.
The timing of traffic lights is always of great interest to me, particularly when I finally get a green but can see that the next light has just turned red.
Back when I was a kid reporter, I used to write regularly about how Toronto virtually had invented  the idea of feeding signals from traffic lights into a buried computer centre so that you could actually drive along without every second light blocking you.
In fact, traffic experts from all over the world used to come to study what the Toronto metropolitan area was doing.  I once went to Singapore because of radical changes there in handling traffic and all the experts there wanted to do was ask me what was the latest innovation in Toronto.
How the mighty have fallen!
I was reflecting on this the other day when I drove in from my cottage on the Trent south of Havelock to deliver Mary to a bus taking her and some relatives from the Plewes clan to lay waste to the shops of Quebec.
My destination was the Legion in western Peterboro (the way we used to spell it in the old Tely to save  type.)
I hate to be tardy but we arrived a few minutes late for the pickup by the excursion bus. Why? The usual idiots on Highway 7 who get nervous at 80. The usual lumbering dump trucks and tractor trailers that are too big for ordinary highways but are allowed there by stupid politicians and lazy law enforcement..
 And every light was red.
Since Lansdowne is a main drag, you would think that at 8 a.m., it would be possible for any rookie official with more firepower than a smart phone to program a system where many lights could be synchronised.
But oh no, traffic limped from red light to red light, which may cut down on speeding but certainly increases pollution and wear. Presumably, the drivers around me were going to jobs or making early calls or deliveries, but the city wasn't easing the trip one bit.
Ironically, after Mary got on the bus and the driver and I stopped bitching about how traffic had worsened, I drove back to the cottage and stopped only once in 60 km.
See, it is possible. And it is interesting that in Peterboro it is easier to leave town than to work there.
I was trying to calculate the odds of driving all that distance and only having one red out of 20 or so signalized intersections.  Perhaps one in a million.
 Why it's practically a miracle, one that no traffic engineer would believe and every traffic engineer will ensure never happens again.

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