'Flipper Bridge' joins roads of countries that drive on left with those that drive on right

How do you join the roads of countries that drive on the left with those that drive on the right? The "Flipper Bridge" might be the answer.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Upon returning from a recent trip to London, I pondered the left-side versus right-side driving practices that separated the U.S. -- and indeed, the entire European Union -- from the UK.

I posted thoughts on how the side we drive on is analogous to a massively embedded, irretractable business process beyond the reach of technology over at my ZDNet site.

If Great Britain sought to integrate itself even deeper into the EU, and perhaps drill another Chunnel with a highway connecting to France, engineers would need to consider how drivers will make the switch to the other lanes at some point -- without head-on crashes.

A reader, Prasanna Narayanan, brought an interesting development to my attention. Hong Kong -- a former UK colony -- also has left-side driving. Unfortunately, China itself has right-side driving. You can imagine the confusion this creates at border crossings, and as Hong Kong more deeply integrates into the mainland, there will be more traffic going back and forth.

A solution, the "Flipper Bridge," was proposed by NL Architects. Described in Fast Company, the Flipper Bridge does just what it's name says: it flips the lanes over, so Hong Kong residents are directed to the right side of the road, and vise-versa for those coming in from the mainland.

The bridge was submitted to an ideas competition on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, a complex of bridges and tunnels connecting the west side of Hong Kong to mainland China and Macau. Alas, as Fast Company's Suzanne Labarre points out, the idea did not prevail.

The Hong Kong example illustrates how we're increasingly becoming an interconnected world, and there are barriers -- culture, language, currency, and which side of the road we drive on -- that still need bridges. And if there's ever a plan to expand the Chunnel for driving, or even a bridge, here's a solution for the right-to-left switchover.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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