Anthropomorphic speed bumps

The city of West Vancouver, British Columbia thinks holograms of children will slow drivers down. It’s quite a long way from the LSD Illusion.

In what sounds like a terrifying experience, the girl’s elongated form appears to rise from the ground as cars approach, reaching 3D realism at around 100 feet, and then returning to 2D distortion once cars pass that ideal viewing distance. Its designers created the image to give drivers who travel at the street’s recommended 18 miles per hour (30 km per hour) enough time to stop before hitting Pavement Patty–acknowledging the spectacle before they continue to safely roll over her.

One question: What children play in parking garages with a rubber ball? A neighbor, maybe, but not a garage. Tom Vanderbilt doesn’t like the idea on the grounds it might lead to people swerving instead of slowing down, and hitting other cars, objects, or, sadly, kids. Sounds like a legitimate possible unintended consequence. Hat tip: Karl Woll.


  • Karl

    Don’t think the image shown is the final version. Found another article that says:

    “The illusion is to be placed on the road outside École Pauline Johnson Elementary School in West Vancouver in Canada and will be accompanied by a sign which reads: ‘You’re probably not expecting kids to run into the road.’

    Read more:

  • adora

    I don’t like this. People who frequent this garage might get used to seeing the image and fail to stop when actual children appears.

    • Matt Fox:

      I agree with Adora. Similar to the Boy Who Cried Wolf story, people may become used to it and not react as quickly when an actual person appears.

  • Jack Springman

    There is another danger – if these holograms become widely used that drivers become inured to them and mistake a real child for a hologram.

    Picking up the point made in the Copenhagen Charm Offensive, any value should be in the surprise created. It does not have to be a picture of a child – just the ball would do. The ideal choice would be an inanimate object that caused drivers to instinctively slow down (because no one doesn’t want to hit anything with their car), but where the costs of hitting it are not seen as so significant to cause swerving or violent evasive action to be taken.

    And of course the image would need to be changed on a frequent basis to keep the element of surprise

  • Jack_springman

    I am with Adora and Matt. That said, the real impact (As per Copenhagen Charm Offensive) comes in its surprise. It doesn’t have to show a child, the ball would do. The ideal would be an inanimate object that causes someone to instinctively slow down (so in a bright colour) but not so critical as to force them to swerve, as per Tom Vanderbilts concern. A ball and its like could meet those criterion. Obviously to maintain the surprise, the image would need to be changed on a regular basis.