Traffic Part 2.

May 2nd, 2008
Traffic lights.
For the most part, they are all LED, which, to a geek (doubly so bald ones) is just a pretty thing to watch.
Generally, the yellow is not LED, cost saving no doubt, and little power savings to be seen, so why replace it? Besides, not having it, only shares the LED goodness of the red and green! 

The most interesting thing about the lights here is that there is only one set per intersection, and they are on the far side of the intersection. So, more than once in our past trips here, and once or twice this time round, I have found myself coming to a stop at the stop light, only to relies that I am stopped in the middle of the intersection!
I’m still used to the Australian way of having a set at the start of the intersection and a set at the far side of the intersection.
More cost saving no doubt, and probably very sensible, it does not seem to cause any problems for any one, and I’m getting used to it pretty quickly after the 5 weeks we have been here.

The pedestrian lights are different here too. They do not show if you can walk or not until you hit the button. That takes some getting used to, its red, you hit the button, and often as soon as you hit it, the red hand will change to a little white LED man that always reminds me of the little guy out of the LodeRunner computer game I grew up on. (Showing my age big time with that one I know, but it is a fond memory playing that game in the computer lab after school while living in Darwin). When you are half way across the road the little loderunner guy will disappear and show a red flashing hand, beside which will show a counter. It counts down from 20, its like a timer to give you the hurry up, which is a bit weird really, because the other real different thing about the traffic here is the way they treat pedestrians…….

To start you off in how much power the average pedestrian has here, you need to know one of the road rules…….
If a pedestrian is crossing the road, and even if you have right of way, you must wait till the pedestrian is two full lanes past your lane before you can move. Think about that for a moment, you are in the car, sitting there, waiting for this person to walk past another two car lanes past the one you are in before you can move!!!
So, knowing that, you can now get an idea how ’silly’ it is to have the little count down timer….I mean whats that about?? If you run out of time crossing the road, dont panic, you can hold up three lanes of traffic just by walking at your normal pace.
If you are walking on the footpath (sidewalk here), and even look like you are going to step into the traffic, it will stop, even if there is no crosswalk there.
Its pretty crazy and one thing I cant get used to just yet. In Australia as you all know, pedestrians are fair game, you squeeze past them in a heartbeat all the time….. Lets just say that there are few people in Temecula that have a few more gray hairs since I have moved into town!

The last thing about the traffic lights is that you can turn right on a red light. For Australia, thats the same as turning left on a red light.
Think about that for a moment. You are sitting at the lights at, say, the corner of Humphy St North and Mair St, you know, just past the mail center, and you want to go down the hill, you are facing a red light, there is nothing coming past Bi Lo, so, you can turn and go. The traffic moves so much better.
Now and then I find myself sitting there, but the guy behind me usually reminds us, actually, thinking about it, no one has beeped me yet. I usually remember before that. Its so cool.