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When will the officer turn green?

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Thimphu is the world’s only capital city without a single stop light.

Downtown traffic in Thimphu usually isn’t too bad. But in recent years, the number of new cars has increased. So you’re liable to see a rush-hour traffic jam even here.

Nevertheless, the 70 000 citizens of this Himalayan capital don’t want any traffic lights on their streets.

Traffic is regulated by traffic signs and by a police officer at the town’s busiest intersection.

A few years ago, the traffic police officers were given other tasks and a stop light was installed in their place.

Modern times had finally arrived in Thimphu!

But, alas, the people of Thimphu couldn’t get used to the idea of red and green lights telling them when to stop and when to go.

They missed their traffic police officer.

Even the country’s king intervened when dissatisfaction with the impersonal stop light spread.

And soon, the traffic policemen were back in their little gazebo on Thimphu’s busiest intersection.

To this day, you’ll find them here, directing traffic in moves so elegant you’d think they were solo dancers of a ballet.

No wonder the people of Thimphu considered this unique institution part of their cultural heritage worth preserving.

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Written by Thorsten

October 13, 2008 at 4:54 am

One Response

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  1. Dear Thorsten — looks like you’re getting around Bhutan quite a bit! Let me just point out Thimphu’s not the only traffic-lightless capital: It shares that distinction with Bissau…

    All best and talk to you soon!

    Mathis

    Mathis

    October 21, 2008 at 1:07 pm


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