Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Society Rules

I am here in Calgary for a spell and walk to and from work each day across the grid that is downtown .

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Each intersection is controlled by traffic lights, as you might expect. What is interesting is the lights control pedestrian traffic even more than they do vehicles. And Calgarians obey the rules like no other citizens on the planet. Consider this. The red "Don't Walk" light turns from flashing to continuous. No pedestrian runs out onto the street in the face of this red light. Even if there is absolutely no traffic within five city blocks of the intersection.

No. We patiently wait to cross, or, if it make sense, we cross at right angles and then continue to wait to cross the same street, still governed by the red light. As soon as the light changes to "Walk", we walk, but not a split second earlier. Rules are rules.

Or are they? There are signs that anarchy at the intersection is on the rise. Pedestrians, at their peril, are starting to ignore the lights. This is most disconcerting to the drivers, who have always assumed that no-one is going to step out in front of them. Drivers will probably start to retaliate by running the lights as they change from orange to red.

Is this the beginning of the end? Will Calgarians now start to jay walk? Is Albertan civilization about to crumble?

Stay tuned.