Re: changing traffic lights by the force of your personality

From: Doug Jones (
Date: Thu Feb 07 2002 - 22:49:54 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 07:43 PM 2/7/02 -0700, chesh wrote:
> >I bitch about running into constant red lights, do a bit
> >of mental acrobatics, and note that every (or very nearly, nothing's
> perfect) traffic light is
> >green for the rest of the day. Sometimes this has lasted a few days or a
> week; depending
> >on my general state of mind.
> Since this is the Extropian List and not the Deluded Magical Thinking List,
> probably most readers will have blipped over this post with a sigh. But
> since it's such a classic but truly dopey New Age claim that people can
> change traffic lights by wishing, it might be interesting to prod it a bit.
> How would the world have to be for this to work? More exactly, how would
> traffic light systems have to be?
> Any traffic light experts on the list?

It's probably his own behavior that chesh is modifying, not the
lights'. Back in my wild days as a late-night taxi driver, I learned
which lights in Colorado Springs were triggered by sensors in the street
(some of which required *two* counts to trigger a change- zoom up, slam
on the brakes, throw it in reverse, back up, pull forward, light changes
pronto), which were synchronized for a particular speed (drive mellow,
stay back from the leading edge of the traffic wave, get there quick and
safe), and which were on dumb timers (watch the light from a distance,
adjust speed according to the current light state and distance).

I also learned that the 45 mph synchronized lights on a major N-S
arterial could also be negotiated at speeds from 60-90 mph, since the
spacing between them varied. On a long stretch without lights, I'd
accelerate and hit the next green light only seconds after it came on,
then squeeze thru the end of the next light having gained almost one
half cycle; at the third one, another half cycle ahead, I'd be early

The safest way to speed on the city streets, though, was to follow a
lights-out cop about 200 feet back- hard for him to give you a ticket
for matching *his* non-emergency speed.

Thus one occupies one's mind when underemployed.

Doug Jones, Rocket Plumber

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