Friday 3 May 2013

Can I chip in?

City Councils face a few problems in assessing effective demand for Council services. Sure, lots of people will say how much they want that various amenities be provided, but everyone has incentive to overstate their true preferences. And while we have complicated Lindahl pricing mechanisms that might work in theory, I've never heard of their actually being used.

And so I was really pleased to have Citizen Investor pointed out to me.

As I drove down Brougham Street last night, I wished for an Android App where I could, at every stupid traffic snarl caused by the absence of a right-turn light and a consequently overflowing turn lane, contribute to a Kickstarter campaign where I could chip in to help fund the provision of right-turn lights.* Citizen Investor takes those projects that lag behind in the Council's approved-but-not-yet-funded queue, and lets contributors bump them up the queue. works similarly.

If Christchurch Council would let me chip in, here are the things for which I'd be willing to stump up some cash in addition to what I'm already paying in rates:

  • Turn lights at Clyde & Creyke
  • Turn lights on Blenheim
  • Turn lights on Brougham south of downtown
  • Probably a half dozen other turn lights
  • Rebuilding the kid's play structure in the South New Brighton Park
Wouldn't it be great if there were an App that used GPS data to let you know about Kickstarter campaigns for proposed civic projects in the locale? Take the kids to a park that's a bit tired; the phone prompts you that somebody's proposed a nice new set of facilities; you pledge $20. Enough people do it and more cool stuff gets built. Have all the potential GapFiller projects in there too. Please make it so.

* When Council invested in traffic lights, the road rules said that the person turning across traffic had right of way against the person turning with traffic. So, in American terms, the guy turning left across traffic has the right of way over you if you're going the opposite direction and turning right. That means that the turning lanes for the difficult turns have a chance to clear without a turning light. It also meant a few accidents with confusion about the give way rule. We changed the give-way rule but didn't put in the now-required turning lights to let people make the difficult across-traffic turn.


  1. Hi Eric,

    Good idea. And the pledging support could extend even further - sometimes, there is a turn light, but it's too short and the turn lane still overflows. There might be also pledging for extending the duration of the turn signal...

  2. Traffic light timing seems a bit of a mess all over town. I expect some of it is flow-on from the road closures. But it would be fun to imagine traffic light duration determined by aggregate willingness to pay on the different sides of the intersection....