I moaned last week that my local pedestrian crossing had slowed down. Pressing the button used to stop the traffic in an acceptable time, but then overnight suddenly switched to take an age. A minute and twenty, a minute and a half, often pushing two minutes before the green man showed. An unfortunate malfunction or contempt for pedestrians, one or the other.
This week, something's changed. I noticed it on Wednesday morning, the time taken ticking over seemed somehow considerably quicker. On the way home I timed it, and blimey, it only took twenty seconds until the lights changed. On Thursday I checked again, twenty-five in the morning, twenty-two on the way home. An entire minute lopped off, at least. And I smiled.
It seems that someone's tweaked my local crossing again, this time right back in favour of those it's meant to serve. No longer do we have to stand there like lemons wondering if the lights will ever change, or else dash across during a gap when the flow off the Bow Flyover relents. An intriguing side-effect is that now when the main lights turn red, it's far more likely that someone will still be standing there waiting to cross, rather than the traffic pausing for someone long departed.
If anything, the timing of the lights is now considerably better than it's been for years. Ever since our pelican was replaced by a puffin we residents of Bow have had to wait noticeably longer to cross the A11. We thought a technologically superior crossing might mean more efficient scheduling, smarter interaction and less unnecessary hanging around for pedestrians and traffic. Evidence, alas, suggested the reverse had happened. Until, hurrah, this week.
I couldn't say why and how the timing of these lights has been changed. It might well be that an employee noticed the asymmetrical timings and sought to put them right. It might be that somebody put in an official complaint or contacted TfL fault control to file a report. Or it might be that someone influential somewhere read this blog and set in motion the wheels of change. I'm not really bothered which of those it was, I'm just delighted at no longer having to wait around forever to cross Bow Road.
Two minutes saved each day, that's ten minutes a week, or eight hours a year. Whoever you are, or were, thank you.