How to irritate car drivers

[Clearway pole] [Star pole]
Decorative poles, Carnegie

On Saturday I cooked up some rather delicious chicken tikka masala, and watched the Fellowship of the Rings DVD. Now this is a movie for which it is definitely worth fiddling to get the TV and DVD player into
16:9 mode
. I haven’t seen it properly since in the cinema in December ’01 (those attempts to watch it on dodgy pirate VCDs last year don’t count), and on my big(gish) TV with the sound pumped up, it is a glorious movie. Okay, so it still reminds one of a three hour Dungeons and Dragons game, but that just goes to show how much D&D creatorGary Gygax was influenced by Tolkien.

Due to circumstances I won’t go into right now, I haven’t actually seen The Two Towers yet. It’s due out on DVD in a few weeks, and rest assured that any number of Nazgul won’t prevent me being first in the queue to grab it when it’s out.

On Sunday afternoon, taking a break from the time I should have been using to unpack boxes (I got hardly any of them done all weekend… ah well, what’s the damn hurry?) I took a walk down the street to get some shopping. I love the fact that the nearby shops have almost everything one could possibly need. So even on a Sunday, I am able to stroll down and return with my cloth bags stuffed to the brim with groceries, fresh fruit, bread, anADSL line filter and a Big M.

(Actually I didn’t buy an ADSL line filter, though I could have.)

Many of the street poles in the area are decorated with pictures, and as I walked back I encountered one of the artists touching up a pole. He said he didn’t do them all – about half of them (which explains the two distinctive styles), and I congratulated him on his efforts. Some of them rather cleverly reflect the adjacent shops, or indicate in a rather more decorative way than usual where you shouldn’t park. It’s a small touch, but they do help to brighten up the place.

At some point on the way home I have to cross the main road. There’s a set of lights mid-block, and they are programmed to change as soon as you press the button. This is in stark contrast to the ones near where I used to live, where you could reach old age waiting for them to change. In fact the road might be clear of traffic for ages, with the green man steadfastly refusing to reveal himself. Then the lights would change just as a stream of cars arrived, thus delaying the maximum number of people. Yes, one could jaywalk, but this is something I make it a point not to do when I’m with my kids, since they need to learn how to cross roads safely.

So for me these traffic lights are a change for the better. You could do some serious traffic calming here if you sat there all day pressing the button, though you might well incite a road rage incident or two. Traffic calming/driver enraging. As the lights only get used occasionally, it probably doesn’t bother most car drivers (including me, when I drive past). But on this occasion, after crossing as I walked away down the street, before the lights changed back to green, I saw the middle-aged bloke in the car at the front of the queue make a hand gesture of the vaguely "oh this is terrific… why do they have traffic lights here… I should be exempt from stopping for them" variety. Heh. Tough luck fella.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.