For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. A repercussion, if you will.
However, standing at this T-junction facing my town’s station interchange, I realized this so-called reaction could sometimes be non-action.
For the past few months, I have been obsessed with traffic lights, with good reason. When I leave for work — with just a few minutes to spare before the bus leaves — I factor in how much time I will spend waiting for the little man at the traffic light to turn green. I have to pass underneath a train bridge to get to the bus station at the interchange. And before that bridge is a four-way junction, governed by a trio of traffic lights and a quartet of crosswalk lights. These lights are so central to my work day that I know the order in which they turn green.
On this day, I was calm. I had no buses to catch nor urgent rendezvouses to meet. I observed something as I clicked the button and waited for the crosslight signs to turn green. Although the crosswalk sign was still red, one by quick-feeted one, the people standing next to me were zipping to the other side of the road. A car rounding a bend almost hit the last of the lot. The driver was proper pissed and swore at the errant pedestrian, who cackled at the insults. This is a consistent thing. People crossing when the crosswalk sign is red, both when there is an approaching car and when there is none.
And it made me wonder: what if motorists started doing the same thing? What if they started beating red lights just because there was no oncoming car or pedestrian crossing?
One word: Catastrophe.
Accidents — or, at the very least, near-accidents — would be the order of the day. The motorists would get fines even if they beat the light on a lonely street.
Having a car is like being the firstborn child. It comes with perks and a double helping of responsibility. Pedestrians, like younger siblings, could be forgiven for misdeeds because they did not know better. However, to drive a car, you must take multiple lessons and tests. Lessons that emphasize the importance of patience, safety, and carefulness. Tests that check how well you have internalized these lessons.