A New Red Light That’s As Lovable As A Red-Light District?

Kabukicho Gate Shinjuku

We used to think that nothing could beat a good red-light district. From Japan’s sudsy soaplands in Kojo to Germany’s anything-goes go-gos in Reeperbahn, red-light districts are magical oases for releasing the pent-up tension of the daily grind. However, a newly designed traffic light has forced us to consider this question: can a red light be as lovable as a red-light district?

The answer: NEVER.

Nevertheless, the Eko Light, designed by Damjan Stankovic, is still a brilliant re-imagination of traffic lights. In fact, the design is so obvious that it’s strange how no one thought of it before now.

The problem with standard traffic lights has always been that you never know when they’re going to go from red to green, so you always have to be on your guard. How long until the light changes? Maybe two seconds—maybe two minutes. It’s like an anti-Zen koan that leads to hair-pulling and agitation instead of peace and enlightenment. The Eko Light, though, is the one-hand clapping that you can actually hear. The light has a ring of domino-shaped lights around the center light. These lights are timed to gradually turn off one at a time at a pace that matches the duration of the light. So drivers stopped at the light know whether they have enough time to mow through that breakfast burrito or whether they’ll be stuck mid-chomp dropping the burrito in their lap to throw their car into 1st.

Eko Light

Stankovic sees the Eko Light benefiting more than just breakfast burrito eaters. Since drivers will know how long they’ll have to sit at a light, they can shut their cars off. The fewer the cars stuck idling, the less pollution that’s spewed out into the atmosphere. And, motorists wouldn’t have to waste so much fuel, so they could save some serious gravy, too. Most importantly, though, it could help reduce driver stress because they could actually relax while stuck in traffic. And we’re all in favor of anything that’ll reduce our risk of getting gatted in traffic.


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