Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Bob, your nemesis is on line one..."

If you want to see Gunsmith Bob get wound up, be in a vehicle with him that, due to "traffic calming" strategies, catches a series of red lights one after another.

"I'd like to get my hands on the guy who..."

Via a Wikiwander that led me (and I can't remember how) to the term "Barnes Dance", I have found your bĂȘte noire, Bob: His name is, or rather was, Henry Barnes and he is the man usually credited with inventing the "Green Wave". He apparently passed away in 1968 and no word is given as to whether it was a suitable demise, such as catching on fire and falling into a shark tank.


Anonymous said...

I always wondered who did it. I've spent many a commute in absolute mouth-foaming fury because it took (seemingly) HOURS to drive a few miles because every ^$#$#%^#*$^#*^#@$#!^$ traffic light turned red just when I got to it. I channeled Al Capone from the "Untouchables": "I want the guy who designed this system DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I want to go there in the middle of the night and p*ss on his ashes!"

Anonymous said...

Rome, GA with it's 35 MPH speed limit and rolling traffic lights does take a long time to traverse because of that. I timed it out and it was 20 min from the time you entered Rome off of 411 to the momment you went by the paper mill heading out of town was a hated that part of my weekly commute between Doraville and Huntsville back in the mid 90's.


Robb Allen said...

Just remember, traffic lights that are timed for 35mph also are timed for 70mph.

Anonymous said...


Add plow his land with salt and your just getting close.


Ferret said...

I've often maintained that Orlando's naming as the angriest city in the U.S. (ironically located next to the "Happiest Place on Earth") can largely be blamed on the abysmally poor traffic management on its streets and highways.

That and the only traffic laws regularly enforced by those charged with doing so are the poorly-timed red lights, artificially-lowered speed limits, and DUI - you know, the money-makers.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I for one am (and have so stated many times over the years) in favor of abolishing low-speed school zones. I see two solutions to the traffic safety issues around schools, and neither necessarily involves slowing down to a crawl when passing schools.

First, mandate that each driveway leading into the school must be controlled by a traffic light. And no, you don't get to have a cop manually controlling the light at arrival and dismissal times. Buses can wait their turn like everybody else.

Second, put up fences around school properties as used to be done before the self-esteemers took charge and abolished them because of the prison-like atmosphere they were claimed to engender. Fences keep the rugrats in, and (bonus!) the goblins out.

I'd be a lot happier if my school taxes were spent on that rather than some of the other crap they're spent on.

Nathaniel said...

In my experience, the Green Wave works wonderfully at all times except rush hour. So don't blame Henry Barnes -- blame the idiots who fail to set lights to run on different patterns depending on time of day and day of week.

aczarnowski said...

I'm willing to risk skynet going self-aware to give it a shot at traffic management. It can't do worse than the current system around here.

Homer said...

I've long thought that it's really distressing that American school children are simply too stupid to understand different-colored traffic signals and negotiate crosswalks without the assistance of radically lowered speed limits and an army of orange-vested nannies with handheld stop signs. Perhaps it's time to revisit what passes for basic IQ standards in the US or, at least, what's being taught in the schools they're so incapable of reaching on their own.

As for the dismal traffic conditions in the Orlando area, after having lived there for 20 years, I don't think Orange County government is substantially more incompetent than local government anyplace else.

Jim said...

Traffic circles, anyone? Just for the amusement factor, of course!

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Bubblehead Les. said...

Traffic Circles work for 2 reasons: 1, they do get rid of that damn 3 minute Red Lights, and 2, for all those Nascar Wannabes, it does allow Darwin Awards to be issued. I like them.

Anonymous said...

Roundabouts rock, but what does Gunsmith Bob think of them?

My idea for a reality show would be cameras following Gunsmith Bob around all day. Amusing and we'd learn all about interesting things.

Shootin' Buddy

Will said...

NJ has traffic circles. Only problem I recall about them is giving/getting route directions that involved them.

Anonymous said...

Then, I imagine this pace-car scheme would drive him to apoplexy.


Anonymous said...

I have actually seen the green wave work. One way traffic on 2 streets in St Pete, Florida.

First Avenue North traffic flows west. To the beaches. First Ave South flows east to downtown St. Pete. 40 MPH or a little better.

The only place I ever saw it work. (And the only thing St Pete got right. Street names for example.)

kishnevi said...

The Green Wave (I think the official name was "progressive traffic signals") is actually the opposite IF IT WORKS CORRECTLY--if you are going at or just under the speed limit, each traffic signal changes to green as you approach it, allowing you to maintain a steady speed the entire way. You would only need to sit through one red light to phase into the green lights. We used to have them a couple of decades ago on some of our streets: I suspect they were quietly eliminated when the impact on traffic ticket revenue was noticed.

As for school zones, I always thought that they aren't needed. If your kid doesn't know how to cross the street safely, then why would you led him/her walk to school alone?

And I'll finish with the definition of futility proposed by a guy I used to work with: A Lamberghini in a school zone.

Thomas Smith said...

I work on traffic signals and there's three things I really hate.

1:traffic signals. They tend to be developed over a 30 year period by whoever was handy that day using parts at hand. Meaning hundreds of custom jobs with cute quirks and obsolete parts.

2: Oversignalization. People who are afraid to merge demand signals at the end of their street so they can enter into rush hour without thinking. I've observed though, that more than 1 set of signals at each end of a mile, or at most half mile intervals, tends to slow things down. Efforts to lessen the impact of #2 go to....

3: coordination. This tends to blow off traffic coming from any direction but one. In OKC, where I work, I know of no "wave" programming, just heavy biasing towards 2 phases, for instance north and south.

People exiting quail springs mall had trouble entering traffic at Christmas, so the mall owners asked for extra signals. Then traffic went nowhere. then we put in coordination and N-S clears and the mall exits are forced to wat forever...and ever.... and ever.

Thomas Smith said...

2 other things,

1: I love traffic circles, no stop unless there really is a car coming the other way.

The other, The green wave works great for the (hopefully) majority traveling 1 way along 1 street. And screws literally everyone else. Often for miles around.