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On Monday and Tuesday, broken traffic lights at the intersection of 34th and Walnut forced police officers to stand in the middle of the road and direct traffic themselves. The officers handled the job expertly, making a potentially dangerous situation only a minor inconvenience. Still, some students were quite displeased with the issue.
"I have to rush to my 10 a.m. in DRL every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday," said Joe Szymanowski (E'20), who lives in New College House. "Usually, I walk out of NCH at 9:57, sprint madly across Walnut in between cars, and make it to my seat at 10:01." With police around, Szymanowski was forced to cross the street like a normal person, delaying his arrival to 10:03. "It's really unfair that a maintenance issue made me late to class. I mean, this is an Ivy League university!" Szymanowski exclaimed.
Self-proclaimed traffic control enthusiast Michael Watterson (E'18) also complained about the broken lights. As a "fun side project," which he posted to his LinkedIn account, Watterson created a Google maps extension last semester. The extension calculates the fastest routes to class, taking traffic lights into account. In order to do so, he spent three weeks squatting at each intersection on and around Penn's campus, timing each traffic light. All of this was recounted to us in excruciating detail.
"My algorithm makes use of those two seconds in between when the traffic light for the cars turns red and the light for the crosswalk turns green," explained Watterson. "You can actually start walking during that time, which will save you a few seconds. Time is money, after all. But with the lights broken and the intersection being managed by humans, it really messes up the whole system, and it's just horribly inefficient."
A few students, however, preferred the intersection being managed by police.
"Well, crossing 34th Street from south of Walnut actually made sense for once," said Amanda Hong (C'19). "You know that crosswalk light that turns red even when there are no cars coming? I could ignore it without feeling guilty yesterday."