A Cautionary Tale

I almost got run over this morning and for once it was entirely my fault. You see, I’d been reading about the disappearance of the flashing green man over on Diamond Geezer, and I was distracted while standing at the crossing into looking at the lights instead of responding to them. Diamond Geezer had pointed out that the little green man no longer flashes these days – it just goes off for a bit before the little red man goes on, leaving you with the impression that the pedestrian light is broken. This, apparently, has been done on safety grounds. So there I was standing at the crossing at Kew Bridge thinking, ‘blimey, he’s right’ (how could I have doubted?), ‘they do just switch off now’. And I was so busy thinking that, I forgot to think of other things, like checking to see if there’s a motorbike revving up to start at the light that’s just about to go against me as I cross. Nippy things, motorbikes, aren’t they? It’s fortunate they’re so manouevrable…

So anyway, setting my near death experience aside, and from the safety of the pavement this time, I did a quick straw poll of the pedestrian crossings on the way home this evening, to mixed results. The junctions at Kew Bridge and Vauxhall Cross both do the disappearing green man trick whereas the pedestrian-only crossing on Kennington Road still has the flashing man. What’s going on here? Have any of you noticed this alarming trend? When did it start? And how can making the light look broken be safer? I never thought I’d have cause to say this, but bring back our flashing men!


2 responses to “A Cautionary Tale

  1. I’d noticed the lack of man flashing at the crossings as well, the ones here (that I’ve seen it on) seem to go black for the longest time before the lights change for traffic and the red man pops up.

    At least with the flashing green man you know you’re on borrowed time; with the “no-man” you can make it across and back again on a lot of the crossings before the lights change for traffic – obviously annoying to both pedestrians and automobile users.

    That said, I still prefer the old “looking for the man opposite” than those ones that stick the men on the box with the button; meaning you don’t watch the road, you stare at a box off to the side otherwise you miss the fact that the lights have changed (as they don’t always make a sound) – again – annoying pedestrians and motorists…


    (Wasn’t there a joke, as a schoolboy we’d say… something like “why did the red man blush?”…. “because he saw the green man flashing!”)


    You know, it’s probably a “green” thing; lights and things often get most stressed when turned on and off; which is why, I guess, bulbs often go “ping” when they’re turned on. Maybe it’s “green” / “cheapskate” councils trying to save bulbs/conserve energy ?


    I agree with you. I don’t think it’s safe at all.

    I wonder if the whole “green man flashing” thing was based on pacman.. the way the ghosts flash to say they’re not edible any more and are about to start chasing you again; now most children have no idea what pacman is I’m sure…

    oh… showing my age 🙂


  2. Hmm well if it’s a green energy saving thing I’ll eat my hat – no sign that the powers-that-be care about it in any other way. But I suppose it does save a bit of energy,whaterver the reason

    And the lack of pips is another thing. Now that we’ve suddenly got braille pavements everywhere, why do half the crossing lights not beep any more?

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