The Hive Mind at Work

Startling and strangely reassuring look at how traffic works without signals or police officers at one Indian intersection. As someone says at Boing Boing, it’s like a hive mind at work:


  1. You can’t see the “Die/not Die” traffic signal, just off to the right.
    I’m not sure a one-minute sampling of this chaos is reassurring. But I didn’t understand the Dow/depression 3-day correlation post earlier.
    It’s okay, though. Soon, all those folks on bicycles will have big expensive cars and everything will be okay! :)

  2. My home town – Luck-Now – takes the cake.. I didnt see any buffaloes and cows – criss-crossing …
    Wow. Which lucky city is this.. I mean.. you guys are just bitching all over the web. Come on – didnt u see the nice dividers, the poles et all.. ! What a luxury.. Many cities would wish to have such civilized gentry…
    Lucknow – Luck seldom happens in Lucknow.

  3. Link to the original video, without 2x speed-up:

  4. Paul,
    This appears to be faked a little bit. Don’t the pedestrians appear to be walking a extremely fast? It looks like the video was sped up by 2x, then the original 1x audio (or some other audio) overlaid.
    What do you think?

  5. Ignoring the video, when I go to India, which I admit is only twice in 11 years, my father never lets me drive. And I am glad he doesn’t. Hopefully things have improved, but when the number of motor vehicles in Delhi goes from ~60000 in 1982 to what it is today (probably 7 figures or high 6 figures), you can imagine the chaos, especially combined with the lack of discipline.

  6. Scenes like this are common in developing countries, and as others have said it is sped up. A traffic light (assuming people actually obey it) allows far more throughput.

  7. Perry Liniman says:

    It seems to work better than the TSA checkpoints at LAX.

  8. Henry Barth says:

    There is a major intersection in Cambridge, MA, USA where there are no traffic lights nor police, and no plans for any. In fact all requests for lights or police are sent for “study.” Traffic just flows. For anyone from Cambridge, this is the intersection of Cambridge Street, Cardinal Medeiros Avenue and Warren Street in East Cambridge. Worse for traffic is that Mediros does not lead into Warren. You have to divert to the right ten feet before you can go onto Warren so you must slow down. Yet it works.

  9. I’ve got to believe that this works less because of “hive mind” factor and more due to cultural differences at play here. I think this example shows that these people seem to “get it” that everyone needs to work together for this type of interchange to be effective.
    Northern California drivers (my area), for example, don’t seem to understand that when merging onto a freeway everyone needs to act like a “zipper”: one freeway car goes, then allows a merging car in, then another freeway car, etc.
    If everyone puts themselves first and has the attitude of “I’ve better defend my spot and I’ll be DAMNED if anyone’s gonna cut in front of ME..I’ve had a stressful day and I need to get home NOW!” then traffic flow sucks and we end up with metering lights to enforce the behavior.