Monday, November 8, 2010
Berlin's Ampelmann Gets Moving
Berlin's walk/don't walk lights not only help you cross the street safely, they are an inspiration for both political pride and a cult industry. East Berlin's traffic psychologist, Karl Peglau, designed these instructive lights, known as Ampelmann, in 1961. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, West German pedestrian lights started replacing East Berlin's hatted men. Public opposition to the new lights and strong arguments for the clarity of the old Ampelmann resulted in his return throughout Berlin. The plan is to replace all old pedestrian lights with Ampelmann as they wear out. Former East Berliners take pride that something from their side of the wall prevails. After looking at pedestrian symbols around the world on the Ampelmann website, it does seem that Karl Peglau's design is the clearest; however, remembering the letters of Abigail Adams to her husband, it also appears that pedestrian designers throughout much of the world have forgotten the ladies.