John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A hacked traffic light honks at drivers the instant the signal turns green.
You don't often hear folks making the case there needs to be more honking in the city. Yet that's in effect what these French pranksters are doing with an infuriating device that honks at drivers the instant a traffic light turns green.
The deadpan title for the invention is the "Traffic Booster," implying that it's meant to speed up the flow of vehicles through the city streets. Yet what it seems to be doing is sowing anger because, really, who wants to be honked at before they even have time to reach the gas pedal? The look on the face of the scooter rider at 0:45 says it all: You got to be frickin' kidding me.
In case somebody happens to run across this malicious creation and wants to return the smashed-up remains to its owners, the people to contact are Jerome Saint-Clair and Antoine Bonnet, who built it for the Graffiti Research Lab France. The makers have shared the schematics for "Traffic Booster" online, so you, too, can be a force of major annoyance in your city. (Step 1: Obtain a car horn.) Have a look at the boosting in action: