Man who was fined $500 for criticizing traffic light timing gets his idea adopted by Institute of Transportation Engineers

Yeah. I mean, Im not even after blood, here. I just think that when someone abuses power granted to them by the government, they should never be in a position with any government authority again.


Another thing is, I live in Beaverton, and I can tell you, unequivocally, that there are a whole lot of people working for tech companies here, including both me and this guy, who, despite not being whatever kind of certified engineer they hire to do traffic engineering, could do a vastly better job of timing our traffic lights than whatever clowns they have doing it.

I’ve lived a bunch of places, and I’ve never seen a place where the light scheduling was as obviously, egregiously bad as it is here.


I just assumed anyone with TWO umlauts in their name knows what they’re talking about!


It’s interesting that his idea doesn’t take any kind of engineering degree to understand, it’s pretty common sense: i.e. You have to slow down to make a turn so yellow lights in turn lanes should be slightly longer than yellow lights in non-turn lanes.


This is often the response of people in charge who don’t listen to actual experts.

I applaud this guy and would buy him many beers for not only using science to give Authority the middle finger but suing them and winning and getting his idea adopted.

This is science. This is science giving Authority the middle finger and I love it so hard


You can be fined for criticising something?



Fined? Yes. Constitutionally fined? No.

As this is described, it would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment. That said, if the plaintiff committed fraud by representing that he had credentials he did not in a forum in which you affirm that your comments are submitted under the penalty of perjury, then we might have a justification for government interference in his speech. I assume the report would have mentioned that, but BoingBoing has fucked up such details in the past.

My guess is that some local douche tried to enforce some obscure regulation and didn’t think or care about the First Amendment.


This isn’t about safety, it’s about money collection.

Living in both Chicago and currently the Portland suburbs this is unfortunately my new normal.


I read the linked-to piece and, sure enough, his first response was to get a pen junction based on a First Amendment argument. He won that argument easily.


I’ve started a meta association called “Allowed to Tell Public Officials To Fuck Right Off” Association that allows people to be critical of public official in verbal or written context.

Hand signs are also allowed.

Touch this -> X … to join.


It’s one thing to feel frustrated, and that’s warranted here. But, it’s another thing to equate lack of fact reporting w/ some “general patter of lack of accountability” applied to “all the bureaucrats”. Why? Well, don’t you suppose the people that have written whatever articles you’ve been reading have omitted names? Further, don’t you suppose names appear in the public court records? Is this an issue of publication matters, or is it an issue of some sort of “lack of accountability” conspiracy? I’d guess the former.

It’s probably a state where engineer is a legally protected term, requiring P.Eng status, rather than just an engineering degree.

A quibble since (a) he wasn’t doing work for hire that required that he sign off on as a P.Eng, (b) his work involved basic calculus.


The “lack of accountability” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the papers, it’s because the people who made the decision to fine him, and their superiors who then backed them up through the court battles, are still in the same positions of authority that they abused in this case, and thus in a position to abuse that authority again. Ergo, lack of accountability.

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That may be, but you made a blanket statement about “the thin blue line” applying to “all the bureaucrats”. Just wanted to point out that there are many, many, many “bureaucrats” that routinely do the “right thing” (whatever the hell that is in this fucked up world). Ergo, one story out of one small bureau shouldn’t define the rest.


Previously on Boing Boing:

Traffic lights worldwide set to change after a Swedish engineer saw red over getting a ticket


Agreed, and we’re gonna need a really big database for all those names…


There are a lot of cops who routinely do the “right” thing, or at least the legal thing, too. The thin blue line describes the fact that they all try to prevent the ones who don’t from facing consequences, which is exact what happened here. It’s not a statement that all bureaucrats are evil, it’s pointing out that people in institutional power structures have a strong inclination to protect their own.


I didn’t know North Korea also had a state called Oregon. The more you know…


It delights me that the article describes everybody involved in the paper as having been party to a traffic light ticket they consider unfair. If only we could all be in a position to rewrite the rules when we feel unfairly punished!

Not when we feel unfairly punished. When we can can prove unfairness with objective facts.
And being able to write and re-write the rules is what democracy is all about.