Saturday, 29 November 2008

A matter of time, or two!

I made a couple of time related observations today that I thought were worth relating. The first being my encounter with possibly the world’s slowest petrol pump. The old Toyota combi needed fuel – or ‘oil’ as it is often translated – so before my usual home-time run after Klub I popped out to fill it up. The two inaccuracies in that last statement are very few petrol stations are self service, so someone else does the filling, and ‘popped’ implies it was quick. I was pleased that I got things in progress using my best local language but there was no way I was about to strike up casual conversation to while the hours away. Perhaps my silence translated as impatience, I did get an apologetic explanation on the state of the pump, the details of which were, sadly, lost on me.

I do quite a bit of driving around Mostar and I’ve crossed Spanish Square more times than I can remember but I’ve noticed what I saw tonight. I’ve been in London, New York, Paris, Rome, Madrid and never seen this particular pacifier in action. Maybe someone more travelled, or observant than I can let me know another city with a countdown display on its traffic lights. That’s right, nestled next to the red light, in a housing of identical dimensions is a two-digit display that, with perfect accuracy, predicts the number of seconds remaining until the lights chance. Quite why this is a necessary addition to the standard lighting arrangement I’ve yet to grasp, Perhaps it allows greater certainty in deciding whether you have time to send that text, remove your coat, or change that CD before the lights change. Not that we have CD players in any of our vehicles!

2 comments:

David said...

We've just started to get those countdown timers here in the States in some places. I'm not sure what the benefit is, either. I suppose the manufacturers have to keep "upgrading" the traffic lights in order to keep selling more. "Try the new features of Traffic Light 3.1!" "New countdown timer in Traffic Light XP!" I understand the iTrafficLight was a failure, because it only used white lights, and drivers couldn't tell when to stop or go.

Martin Cassini said...

Yes, I've heard of those timers, and agree with David about the self-perpetuating nature of the traffic control industry. It's staggering, especially when you realise that the only reason we have lights is because main road priority makes roads dangerous to cross in the first place! Remove priority, and you remove the "need" for lights and the need for speed, enabling everyone to use commonsense to filter in turn. More at FiT Roads if you're interested.