1 October 2018 Susannah

Reading Gives the Green Light

Hans Christian Anderson traffic lights

Reading gives the green light to so much pleasure and learning, so I therefore find it entirely appropriate that literary figures can be featured on traffic lights.

In Odense, Denmark, birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, the traffic lights feature Andersen walking along with his distinctive top hat and cane. (He also had very big feet and his large footprints mark the Hans Christian Andersen Trail around the town – matching his strides was quite a challenge.) I just loved the quirky traffic lights and began wondering what other cities feature authors or their creations.

In Utrecht, Holland, Dick Bruna’s much-loved children’s character Miffy (the bunny rabbit) appears in red, yellow and green to warn the locals when to Stop and Go. Mongolia evidently has horses on their traffic lights – very suitable in a country where the horse has played such a part in history, legend and travel. Berlin has its famous tubby Ampelmännchen, relic of its Communist era, to which Berliners are very attached (it is now an iconic brand in Berlin) but he, while great fun, is not literary. Germany also has a Kasperl puppet figure on lights in Augsburg (Kasperl is like Punch from Punch & Judy), while Stuttgart is planning to have cartoon characters Affle and Pferdle on their lights. In these days of gender equality there is a move to introduce more female figures on to traffic lights. I think Jane Austen on Winchester lights would be just wonderful!

But do you know of any other authors or characters adorning traffic lights out there? I’d love to hear if you do. Please leave a comment.

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Featured image credit- Jim Goding
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Comments (4)

  1. Mary Poppins in Maryborough, queensland written by L.P. Travers.Mary is of course complete with her umbrella ☂️

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I never knew that! Thanks so much for telling me!! How fabulous.

  2. Evelyn Freeland

    I was in Maryborough last week, birthplace of PL Travers, creator of Mary Poppins. A statue of the much-loved character stands alongside Travers’ former home and the traffic crossings bear the image of Mary Poppins. I have photos if you’d like them!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Someone else also kindly let me know about the Mary Poppins traffic lights and I was delighted to know about them. I would love to have photos – many thanks.

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