Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Traffic Camera Traps

Last night, we made an after dinner trip to the park so Trystan could try out his birthday present, a new scooter (complete with Thomas the Train helmut).  Our driveway and the sidewalk outside our house both have too much slope to be safe for a 3-year old with wheels.  The park closes at sundown, and we stayed until the very last rays were disappearing, since the weather was nice and the kids were laughing.  We probably stayed too long, actually.  There is a gate that could be used to block the entrance to the park, but we did not get locked on the wrong side of it.  We were instead trapped by red light cameras.
The park exit is one side of a 4-way stoplight, and we needed to turn left to head towards home.  My husband pulled up into the left turn lane and we patiently waited for the light to go green.  We watched cross traffic drive unimpeded for a couple of minutes (it was spotty at best, not exactly a busy road).  Just when we started to despair of getting a green, I saw that the cross lane was turning red.  It did, and the cars opposite us (who were turning, not entering the park), got a turn light.  We did not.  Then the cross traffic got their green back.  This repeated 4 or 5 more cycles.  We never saw a turn light. If the light had a weight sensor, it should have noticed our car.  Its not like we were crammed onto a lightweight bicycle—it was a mid-size SUV.
The cross traffic was light enough, that we could have just made an illegal left turn (at the red light), or even driven straight (through the red light).  But they have a camera at that intersection.  How rude is that?  No left turn arrow (or even a green light to drive forward), and a camera that will tag you if you do it anyway.
We ended up backing up and taking a right, then making a u-turn farther up the road. What a pain. And what a poor use of cameras.  And traffic lights and sensors.  Maybe the city did it on purpose to catch loiterers hanging out in the park after dark (don’t send a cop to ask em to go, just ticket them when they try to leave)?  Because my husband and I and our two kids were clearly up to mischief.

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