Editorial: Hurrying us along

Last updated 05:00 26/05/2014

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OPINION: Just as we grow increasingly impatient with the gizmos of modern life, they seem to be feeling the same about us.

Our cars none-too-politely alert us about their dissatisfactions with our memory or attentiveness. Whiteware now scolds us on similar grounds.

The disembodied voice at the supermarket self-service checkout can barely contain its irritation as it tells us "please put the item in the baggage area" if we have been sluggardly. By its standards.

Now some of Invercargill's traffic lights are going to be telling pedestrians to get a wriggle on.

The Invercargill City Council is trialling an idea by its senior traffic manager Eddie Cook. Push the button as you always have and you'll be given less time to cross.

The amiable green man will allow us the same time as before. But the flashing red man, who next appears to scold us that we are fast running out of time, will now be fully three seconds less tolerant.

Those among us who aren't in a position to speed up, through age, infirmity or a resolutely easygoing nature, have the option of pressing the button longer than at present and they will be given as much time as before.

The savings are said to be thousands of dollars at each intersection. They are measured in terms of time, fuel and pollution - two of which, you'll have noticed, are more the motorists' doing in the first place.

Meanwhile, the council has again gone to pains to make clear that the proposal to reduce the downtown blocks of Dee and Tay streets to one lane each way is still very far from a done deal. Trials to reduce the lanes aren't scheduled until next year and inner-city upgrade boss Councillor Graham Sycamore has suggested that even from this far out, the chances of a go-ahead are evenly balanced.

Same goes for the planning that the dominant Dee St pillars be removed as part of the inner-city renovation. That's another subject on which public views will be mixed. Whether you take the view that they are out of scale and character for the environs, or that they are pleasingly reminiscent of candlesticks, or that they are a disguised landing pad for an alien mother ship that will one day descend to unload our new overlords, there's no getting around it that they have become part of the downtown firmament.

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- The Southland Times

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