When I lived in Toronto, I could maneuver across 5 lanes of traffic likety-split, and my heart would not skip a beat. I could be driving at warp speed down the highway and come upon a sudden traffic jam, and not blink an eye. Last fall when Greg and I visited Toronto, my little niece decided to open the car door to throw her gum out while we were hurtling down the dangerous Don Valley Parkway. I did make her keep her hands in her lap the rest of the trip, but the situation was more funny than scary. When I asked her why she opened the door, she pointed out that her Dad had told her not to throw her gum out the window, so she decided to throw it out the door instead. That logic makes sense, at least to a 7-year old.
In P-A, the “local rules of the road” frighten me more than anything in the city. Come to a 4-way stop in P-A, and people start waving to each other to go first. Politeness is the rule here, over the proper rules of the road. People seem to give preferential treatment to some combination of: those driving nice cars, to people they know, to cute girls, to cute boys, and to really old people. But this just confuses me! If I arrive at a 4-way stop after another car, and the other person waves me through, indicating I should proceed first, I can’t help but wonder “Is this a trick”?!? I am not sure what kind of trick, but …. are people *really* just that nice? But, the thing is, I am a simple person. If there are rules, and everyone knows the rules, everyone should follow the rules. I don’t have the logic skills to think up my own rules, or to understand non-verbal rules like wild-hand-waving at the end of the bridge.
Last week I got completely freaked out on my way to work. I drove the road I always drive to work. I came upon the stop sign I always come upon, but instead of just a stop sign, there was a blinky red light overhead. But wait, there’s more. I realized later that if I approach the intersection from either of the other 2 directions, there are blinky yellow lights, where before, there had been nothing.
A busy intersection in Perth-Andover.
What this tells me is that people don’t know to heed a stop sign, so maybe the visual cues needed to be doubled-up…stop sign AND a red blinky light might get people to REALLY stop when requested. And putting in yellow blinky lights must mean that there were too many instances of people coming at each other from different directions, pausing, then being super-polite to each other, waving to each other to proceed. Maybe all that non-verbal wild-hand-waving became too much for people, and so someone thought blinking yellow lights would help people prioritize who does what, when.
The only problem is, you give 2 people, from a super-polite community, yellow caution blinky lights, then that means it gives them even more reason to be polite and considerate and hesitate....we could end up with a traffic jam at the yellow blinky lights as people start the wild hand-waving to communicate who should proceed, with no movement from either side.
And the whole time, I will be sitting watching this at the stop sign with the red blinky light. Someone made sure as heck that I will stop, but someone forgot to put in a green light to tell me when to go!