Friday, April 03, 2009

Seoul Traffic Lights

Wow. Was that almost two weeks away from this bad boy? Sorry...

As you know, I am brave enough to drive in this accident-ridden city and cool enough to drive a motor scooter. The other day, I discovered something about driving here.

When I go to work, I leave at the same time everyday. I take the same route and have even timed how fast I need to go in order to hit every light perfectly (70-80km/hr), so a drive from Gangnam to Jamsil takes twelve minutes rather than thirty. It took a few days to master, but I had it down well.

On April 1st, I did the same thing I always did. I left the house at the same time and was at the appropriate traffic light at 12:35 -just in time to beat the light. Well, this time, I was off. The light was not green like it always had been. I figured it was a fluke and waited it out. After all, the lights are on a cycle and I'll just pick up the next one in a few minutes.

So the light turned green and I sped on in my normal James Dean fashion, but was stopped at the next light. This pattern continued the entire way there. I have to go through nearly 20 lights to get to Jamsil and I got caught at every one. My commute took thirty minutes and I was late.

The next day I tried again and again was duped. The following day, I tried to leave a little earlier, but still couldn't manage my drive so I hit the lights accurately. Remember, I drive a scooter, so besides being very cool, I don't ever get caught in traffic. I drive on sidewalks, alleys, between buses, on the other side of the road and anywhere else that gets me to my destination faster. The traffic is not a hindrance.

The only thing I can assume that happened was the the City of Seoul, in a surprisingly clever move, changes the patterns of the lights every month so that motorcycle guys and taxis don't game the system which could lead to increased accidents as we believe we can predict the flow of traffic, therefore leading to carelessness and more accidents.

It's smart and I have yet to figure out April's system, but I will soon and then BAM! it'll be May.

Touche 서울...


Harriet said...

Those clever Koreans...but are they really clever or is the system just in need of repair?

The Clam said...

Not sure. I've talked to a few people who say the police change some light patterns where there are a high number of traffic incidents. Does this happen in the US?

Harriet said...

I know there are some situations similar to what you explained. You either get all the lights in your favor and enjoy that or else....speed up the next few blocks and try to get back into the pattern. Changing the pattern though over here? I have no idea.