Sunday, April 15, 2007

Coloureds still getting a raw deal

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is this happening where you live? Have Mr Green, and his inseparable buddy, Mr Red, been unceremoniously punted from their pedestal? There were riots in the 50s when the blacks were treated as second class citizens, but today, apparently it's OK to discriminate against reds and greens.

The ones in my locale used to perch proudly atop a tall post at either side of the road separated by a zebra crossing. Waiting to cross, pedestrians and LED shepherds faced one another directly. They made eye contact and had mutual respect. From their lofty position they could be seen by everyone from a hundred yards away. They were so well placed you could drop your gaze to check your flies are fastened and still a deft flicker of their bulbs would register in the corner of an eye alerting you that it's safe to cross.

The system worked so logic decrees that it must be scrapped. The pedestrian (or pelicon) crossing lights in my home town have all been replaced with kerb-facing, waist-high LED boxes. Consequently if there are a few people waiting to cross, the lights are entirely obscured forcing you to guess if you're likely to be squished into the tarmac should you decide to make a move. Call me crazy but isn't this counterproductive given that we now live in a compensation culture, nanny state climate where aspiring to be good little, rule-abiding, safety-conscious citizens is the order of the day?

Let's make a leap of faith and assume you can actually see one of these new white elephants. You're going to look a complete prat gawking at it like a snake charmers' transfixed pet, rather than casually watching the traffic flow whilst keeping your eyes peeled for a colour change.

It must have cost a fortune to ditch all the old - yet perfectly adequate - lights in favour of these new contraptions, so common sense would suggest that they must bring with them certain benefits. There has to be a rational explanation for implementing such an expensive scheme on a town-wide scale. The trouble is, I don't have the slightest inkling as to what it might be.

Edit: Seeing as this enthralling post has sparked such impassioned debate, I thought you'd be chomping at the bit for an update...

The local council - in recognition that these waist-high LED boxes are, for all intents and purposes, invisible to all but the person standing immediately next to them I presume - have installed an extra 'cross/don't cross' box a couple of feet above the existing ones on either side of the road. All it will take now is for a team of basketball players to move into town and they'll be shunted right back to their original locus. Stay tuned for more sensational pelicon crossing news!

Something I hadn't noticed about the new system until now is that the audible 'it's safe to cross' bleeper signal has been canned, so blind people have even less of a clue when to cross. Are they expected to wave their white sticks into the unknown and only make a move when the twang made by passing cars hitting it ceases?

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