Did you get caught in that black-out in downtown Toronto last night?
I was just coming out of the third annual 'Old Fart Racer Reunion' on Queen's Quay, and - no street lights! No traffic lights!
Apparently, a small fire in a Hydro sub-station took out most of the downtown core, from Carlton down to the lake, between the DVP on the east and - according to Toronto Hydro - Jarvis on the west.
But the traffic lights were out much further west than that.
The fire started around 8:15 p.m., was out by 10, and power was restored by 4 a.m. this morning.
What I found interesting is how well motorists reacted to the situation.
The law says that 'uncontrolled intersections' should be treated like four-way stops.
I.e., everybody stops, and whoever is 'on the right' has the right-of-way.
Then, you try to go in an orderly fashion, one at a time.
I had taken a fellow-OFR to Union Station to catch his GO Train back home, then onto the Gardiner, having to negotiate several of those intersections along the way.
Most of them were uncontrolled - there were a few of Metro's finest directing traffic under the Gardiner, who, incidentally, were very hard to see; where are those big flashlights that police have on TV shows?
But it all seemed to work remarkably well.
So, who is Hans Monderman?
He was (he passed away a couple of years ago) a Netherlands traffic engineer who decided that our roads have far too many signs, lane markings, traffic lights, etc.
He thought, let's try taking ALL regulations away and let the common people - motorists, cyclists, pedestrians - figure it out for themselves.
Yes, I have written about this before...
It seemed to work!
Not only were collisions reduced, but traffic throughput actually increased.
I understand this approach has even been effective in a few North American jurisdictions, although not - as far as I know - in a major conurbation like Toronto.
COULD a city the size of Toronto get along without any traffic control measures at all?
This episode was but a snapshot, a very small piece of anecdotal evidence, that suggests it might.
Hard to imagine any city council having the courage to give it a try, let alone the one we have now which can't even seem to agree on the time of day.
On the other hand, speaking of things I have written about before, if all those intersections were 'uncontrolled' all the time - i.e. roundabouts - we wouldn't ever need traffic lights...