A green traffic light means go. A red traffic light means stop. It’s the same here in Seattle as everywhere else–except in the turn-lanes.
In Seattle a green turn-arrow means put your coffee cup down, adjust your mirror, check what the car behind you is doing, check the GPS to make certain you should be turning at this intersection, check what the car in front of you is doing, note the price of gasoline at the station across the street, SQUIRREL!, put your lipstick or electric razor down (or both), note that the car in front of you has cleared the intersection and is half-way down the next block, signal your intention to execute a turn, put your car in gear, check what the dog at the hydrant is doing, note that the turn arrow has changed from green to amber to red, slowly depress the accelerator pedal and proceed carefully through the intersection while disregarding the honking horns and angry curses. So it will go, whether you are the first or tenth car in line.
In the through lanes, on the other hand, you will smash the accelerator pedal to the floor the instant the light turns green, race through the intersection, and blow your horn and curse at all the slow drivers in the turn-lane.
In short, if you live in Seattle, you will exhibit both behaviors and you will think nothing of the difference.
Aug. 24, 2012