We drivers have little patience with traffic lights. Unwelcome obstacles, they impede our freedom of movement. So imagine the reaction when an overhead signal unexpectedly appeared in an area where none had been before. That’s precisely what happened recently along a largely rural road located on the outskirts of a small hamlet. The traffic light was introduced at the junction of two roadways, one a “main“ thoroughfare heading toward town; the other a secondary route over which only an occasional vehicle passed. There was a reason for this: construction was underway in and around the intersection, and therefore some measure of traffic control seemed prudent. But there was a problem. Whoever erected the signal and adjusted the timing mechanism inexplicably allocated considerably more green light time to vehicles coming from the far less traveled road. As luck would have it, I frequented the main road. And predictably, I, along with many others, repeatedly were obliged to sit and seethe along this isolated stretch waiting impatiently for the signal to change. Meanwhile nearby, few if any vehicles arrived to take advantage of the seemingly endless green light.
Now, motorists, as I’ve noted, don’t much appreciate traffic lights, tolerating them only if they are few and far between and seem fair; that is, if they change at a reasonable interval, and allow sufficient time for cars arriving from different directions to pass on. Any sense of favoritism or imbalance immediately raises their ire. Obviously, what had been created here was patently unfair. Worse, it was one that went on month after month. Admittedly, the few times that I “made” the light were notable triumphs, but they were too infrequent to change the fundamental equation. On several occasions I considered pulling over and pointing out the problem to nearby construction workers, but they were not easily accessible and, I suspected, would not take much interest or appreciate the gravity of the situation.
Then suddenly, unexpectedly, liberation was at hand. The day did arrive when coming around the bend and fully anticipating the red signal, I saw a sight altogether thrilling. The traffic light had been removed; was gone! I could at long last continue on unimpeded. Meanwhile, a stop sign had quite sensibly been installed along the secondary road.
A disturbing irritant had been removed from my life. Others would, of course, take its place, but for the moment, all was well with the world.