It is already very stressful to drive in a city. So we can’t imagine that anyone fashioning an urban traffic-control contraption would just intentionally find a way to upset drivers more than they are upset already. And yet — what is this thing in the Canary Wharf section of London, with more colors beaming off of it than a hanging Swarovski crystal? Well, it’s a monstrous hell-tree made of dozens of conjoined traffic lights, that’s what.
The light does have something going for it: It’s not real. It’s a piece of public art. Aren’t you relieved? Now when you see the thing you will know not to jump out of your car, abandon it forever on the street, and hail a cab, where you would tell the driver, “Don’t say anything. Just hold me.”
The light has 75 signals on it, 72 more signals than appear on the average traffic light. It is 28 feet tall. And it goes without saying that the guy who made the thing, one Pierre Vivant of France, has something rather lofty to say about his creation, which is that it “imitates the natural landscape of the adjacent London plane trees, while the changing pattern of the lights reveals and reflects the never ending rhythm of the surrounding domestic, financial and commercial activities.” The fact that it makes motorists want to weep is apparently just a bonus.
Strangely enough, the thing was put there to replace a tree that was dying from pollution. Wait. When trees die, all we have to do is replace them with weird art? That makes sense. But why be so tree-centric? The roundabout won a competition for best-looking roundabout, so, maybe this is a roundabout that knows its way around the block.
This London Traffic Light Has 75 Signals, Atlantic Cities.