You’re walking to your car parked right in front of a traffic light. You look back and see it slowly blinking red, so you step onto the sidewalk. After several moments, the light turns green, but the traffic is still moving. If you hop back onto the street, the light turns green, but everything else is still in motion.
Bezalel Wonder Traffic Light, located in Jerusalem, Israeli, is an incredibly complicated traffic light system designed to give pedestrians priority. But it’s not necessarily intuitive. It’s erratic, sometimes alternating between green and red. I doubt that half of you see it, let alone that two-thirds of you are familiar with its mysterious signals. Here’s what you need to know:
The Wonder Traffic Light is meant to give pedestrians priority. (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
The system: All intersections in Jerusalem are connected to a central traffic control center which controls the Wonder Traffic Light. Signals are controlled by precise and automated technology.
Why it’s complicated: Building, assembling and turning the signals took 12 months, the Jerusalem Post reported.
So, how does it work? The system is made of two main phases, Blue and Green. The Blue Light, which is designed to give priority to pedestrians, sits in front of the red light. The intersection then goes through a 60-second “pause” during which time pedestrians and cars are not allowed to pass the light. When a pedestrian does pass, they do so when the light turns green. It may look like a process of reversing a moment, but it’s not. The system only goes through pauses between users at those intervals, and stands by them for up to 50 seconds.
It’s hard to read, but you can see how it works from the left. You can see how the earlier phases work.