Solid Red Means . . . Go?

By Dr. Gridlock
Sunday, March 11, 2007

D ear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to community pressure, a traffic light of sorts was placed at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Quaint Acres Drive in Silver Spring for the purpose of enabling residents of the Quaint Acres neighborhood to more readily exit to New Hampshire Avenue during the morning rush hour.

The signal has a remarkable property: It uses a double red light to signal to cars on Quaint Acres Drive to proceed while it shows a single red light to the traffic on New Hampshire Avenue.

A number of residents have observed that the double red light on Quaint Acres Drive appears before the red light on New Hampshire Avenue, thus creating a very dangerous situation if one were to proceed forward without first making sure that the New Hampshire Avenue traffic has stopped.

Of course, the concept of proceeding through a double red light is strange, because this is known only to neighborhood residents.

Peter Bernard

Silver Spring

If you understood what Peter described, you're a lot smarter than I am. I had to stand on Quaint Acres Drive for 15 minutes, watching as the signal's two lights repeatedly turned solid red, before I could get comfortable with the idea that this meant "Go."

But it doesn't mean go right away. After the lights facing Quaint Acres turn solid red, about 10 seconds elapse before traffic on New Hampshire stops. The only way to drive safely into the intersection is to watch the traffic, not the weird light.

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