For all my friends and colleagues in the transport sector, this year we celebrate the centenary of the traffic light. What a boon that has been to orderly traffic in our major cities across the world – as well as a reliable stream of work for town planners, traffic engineers and even economists!
And, yes, we economists do measure the economic benefits of traffic lights. Particularly when you consider installing them at 1,000 intersections:
Of course the big issue is whether we should follow the Europeans and switch to flashing amber during off peak periods.
When we eventually move to three dimensional traffic environments, I wonder how this nodal regulator will evolve.
More importantly, will our legions of pedallists and perambulators prevail in the design of future urban transport systems and kill off King Car?
Or, with the rise of the machines will we simply see motoring evolve through driverless cars into pod platforms?
Either way, as we move into real time, big data clipped from traffic movements will we eventually see the demise of the humble traffic light?