Let’s start with the bad news. Well, bad news if you’re driving a truck on the Beijing-Tibet highway. If like most of us you’re not, and you were looking for a reason to count your blessings today, this would be a good one. It’s taking these poor guys over a week to go 60 miles, sometimes making less than a third of a mile in a day. I read about this in the Wall Street Journal, and would include a link to the article and photos, but the WSJ is getting grubby about sharing their stuff online. Too bad. Lucky for us, the Christian Science Monitor is much more generous. Check out the amazing photos: China’s huge traffic jam, as well as a full report that notes the jam seems to have mysteriously disappeared (China traffic jam vanishes overnight?), just like they do here in the USA. Except that here it doesn’t usually take a week, or even overnight. Sometimes we even get home in time for a late dinner. Does that make you feel any better about the hour or two here and there you spend sitting in traffic? I didn’t think so.
But we can cheer up! Because world traffic news is not all bad. A delightful group in England, called FiT (for filter in turn) is promoting the notion (and with good reason, apparently) that traffic lights (which their spokesman compares to multi-colored acne) are entirely more trouble, congestion-wise, than they’re worth, safety-wise. And they have good evidence in the form of towns in Sweden and England where the lights have been eliminated with great success. It’s all based on the concept that without all the useless and irritating interference of traffic controls, most drivers are naturally quite courteous and cooperative. And safe. As are the pedestrians and bicyclists around them. That they can and do figure out how to take turns and move along nicely. Are you thinking this too good to be true? That my Pollyanna side is making up a charming little fairy story? No, seriously, here’s the YouTube video to prove it:
And here’s the one about Portishead, the town in England where the traffic-light free trial went so well that they decided to made it permanent:
Maybe we should give it a try over here? I think it’s a lovely idea, don’t you?