Don’t block the box… or else?

Imagine this: A driver in his car approaches a traffic light in downtown Washington. The light is green, so the driver crosses into the intersection but can’t make it all the way across before being forced to stop behind a line of other cars. Before the driver can move through the intersection, the light changes to red. Now he is blocking cross traffic from moving through the intersection in the perpendicular direction.

Anyone who has ever driven, bicycled or walked around downtown Washington at rush hour knows that the scenario described above is replayed in real life thousands of times a day. Drivers routinely “block the box” by inching into a crowded intersection when they have a green light, and then staying there once their light turns red, blocking cross traffic. The practice is tantamount to running a red light, and it is a major contributor to auto and bus gridlock downtown during rush hour.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We already have red light cameras at multiple locations throughout the city. Why not roll out a hundred more downtown? Block a box? Snap! Picture taken, your ticket is in the mail.