Rettet die Ampelmännchen

(Save the little traffic light men)

An image of the green Ampelmännchen
When I travelled through eastern Germany in 1997 I was amazed by how quickly vestiges of the DDR had been removed. One thing that has been partly reconsidered is the Ampelmännchen (little Signal man). Here is a good overview article from U.S. News

Recently a friend living in Berlin sent me a copy of Das Buch vom Ampelmännchen (Thanks, Cornelia!) One chapter of the book describes the engineering concepts of the DDR traffic signals designed by Karl Peglau, a Psychologist who specialized in the human factors of traffic. One aspect of the signals that I find particularly rational is that each of the three colored lights is a different shape. This means that color blind users can interpret the signals with much less chance of error.

An image of the red Ampelmännchen


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