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August 21, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Hammersmith traffic lights

Light Paul Adams submits a picture taken in London, England:

The mapping and information design on these traffic lights in Hammersmith bus station in London are broken.


It is pretty clear that it is saying that you are not to turn left but you can go right. What is broken is the fact that the lights are not on the proper side. Pretty easy to figure out how they should be, but nevertheless broken.

Posted by: John Russell at August 21, 2006 12:11 AM

It looks like thee lights are backwards. (The right turn lights should be on the right.)

Posted by: *_*X0RS*_* at August 21, 2006 12:12 AM

This is why the British are broken. (Sorry about the double post, didn't see the first one.)

Posted by: *_*X0RS*_* at August 21, 2006 12:13 AM

The traffic lights are definitely the wrong way around.

The main problem here is the potential consequence of this being broken: A bus driver could have milliseconds to make a decision on whether he can turn. A glance could tell him "2 sets of lights, green on the left, good to go left". The potential consequence is a serious bus crash.

This is also a good example of 'not my job' thinking. Why hasn't anyone taken a screwdriver and switched the lights around?

Posted by: Paul Adams at August 21, 2006 02:52 AM

Has it occured to anyone that the lights appear backwards to us because they drive on the left side of the road there and what is a right turn for us is a left for them? Anyway, they do look kind of confusing but to a Brit they might look just fine.

Posted by: lefty-chef at August 21, 2006 03:59 AM

I live in London - they are just as confusing for left or right hand drive!

Posted by: Paul Adams at August 21, 2006 04:25 AM

For left-side driving systems (like the UK) these two lights would work perfectly for the two left lanes. The left-hand light tells the left-hand lane it can turn right at the intersection. The right-hand light tells the right-hand lane it cannot turn left (across right turners) at the intersection--they have to sit still. The ONLY problem is that the lights are very close together. But drivers are familiar with traffic signals in their home system and would take this in stride. Tourists, on the other hand, equate culture shock to absurdity and report these things to us for our ridicule. Most tourists are broken.

Posted by: tartan at August 21, 2006 08:29 AM

Wouldn't the right lane be going in the opposite direction anyway, or are they both in the same direction, in which case it would be clearer to have the "turn right" light on the right and "turn left" light on the left? And lefty-chef, a right turn is a right turn no matter which side of the road you're driving on. Regardless of the lane you're in, you see both lights. It's not like the left lane can only turn right and can only see the left light. It's much clearer if the "turn right" light is actually on the right and the "turn left" light on the left.

Posted by: Fuzzy at August 21, 2006 11:47 AM

>>"Tourists, on the other hand, equate culture shock to absurdity and report these things to us for our ridicule. Most tourists are broken."

Which would be easier, ceasing all tourism on the planet, educating all tourists, or adding another pole to keep the 2 lights apart? Or would you prefer the traffic holdup and potential for accident whenever someone unfamiliar with the area comes to this street?

Posted by: gmangw at August 21, 2006 12:00 PM

Fuzzy, I know a left is a left and a right is a right no matter what, but the difference that I was refering to is that the turn which crosses a lane of on-coming traffic is opposite for them than it is for us. Here we can turn right on a red light because it doesn't usually cross any traffic but there, a right turn would be crossing lanes of oncoming traffic and you don't want to do that on a red light. Anyway, I hope that clears up my train of thought.

Posted by: lefty-chef at August 21, 2006 12:52 PM

I have seen intersections that have two streets converging in the same "direction", but with insufficient distance to allow them to mingle. Though both sets of lanes are travelling in the same direction, it's easier if they both have a separate light, so that people approaching the intersection from the left can still have an opportunity to turn right without having to work through one or two lanes of traffic over a short distance. I have no idea if that's the case here, but I have seen arrangements like this before. Normally it's laid out (boundaries and signals) a little clearer, but I recall being really confused the first time I came across such a thing.

Posted by: Fastolfe at August 21, 2006 02:11 PM

gmangw, Tourists say things like, "Well I was in Morocco and they was eating with they hands. Stupid pigs." Or, "I was in the Virgin Islands, and they drive on the wrong side of the road like idiots." Or some such crap. Tourists are notorious morons.

Posted by: tartan at August 21, 2006 03:25 PM

How can you generalize about a group which includes almost everyone with any amount of leisure time? People who say stupid things about their travels would say stupid things whether they traveled or not. You only notice the moronic ones because the normal ones don't to anything to attract your attention.

Posted by: gmangw at August 21, 2006 08:25 PM

I must say, those lights certainly do confuse me, but without a larger frame of reference, I can't comment on just how broken they are. I guess I'd need to have been driving on that road myself to really understand.

One other thing I don't get about the lights is the white arrows at the bottom of each one. What are they there for?

I'll go with the probably broken side on this one, mostly because I can't really think of any situation where it would make any sense to be turning left from the right lane, and right from the left lane, as those lights seem to imply to me.

Posted by: Memnon at August 21, 2006 10:13 PM

This falls into my personal category of "definately broken, but is so subtle that it isn't worth the effort to fix." Yes, I'm full aware of the great counterexamples, but I'm sure London has bigger fish (and chips! (french fries for my fellow Americans) to fry than a stupid traffic sign.

Posted by: Ducky at August 22, 2006 07:47 PM

>> ... the white arrows at the bottom of each one. What are they there for?

For me, being somewhat color-blind, that is the most "broken" part of the light arrangement - I couldn't tell any difference between the green right arrow and the arrow at the bottom of the stack on each side. Until you pointed out that the bottom arrows are a different color, I thought that each column had a green arrow on the bottom and either a green or red one above.

Posted by: Mike-76NYSV at August 25, 2006 01:38 PM

"Here we can turn right on a red light because it doesn't usually cross any traffic"

Here in the UK a red light means stop whichever way you are turning. Personally I can't think of any logical reason to place the lights the "wrong" way round.

Posted by: Taliesin71 at August 26, 2006 05:44 AM

As requested, here is the full context of the traffic light design:

I think the most broken thing about this is that the traffic light shouldn't be there at all.

The blue arrows indicate that the road is 'one way traffic'.

Posted by: Paul Adams at August 26, 2006 08:16 PM

The digram and photo on your site seem to indicate that the bus stops for the right hand lane are actually on the oposite side to the bus doors!!

I also still don't see any logic in building a bus station where the lanes cross each other at the exit.

Looks like the lights are the least broken thing about this bus station!!

Posted by: Taliesin71 at August 29, 2006 08:56 AM

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