Here’s an update on the road crossing that opened last month with a new sign. Yes, it’s a real crossing and a real traffic sign! It’s located in Spijkenisse (West Netherlands, near Rotterdam) and the local people are loving it. The sign pays tribute to Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for those who don’t know, was a big hit BBC comedy in the 1970s. One particular sketch features John Cleese, one of Britain’s most beloved actors and comedians, playing an official for the Ministry of Silly Walks. The sign basically mimics this; it shows a man with a bowler hat and briefcase, flinging his leg crazily high up into the air.
How did it become official?
Well, Aloys Bijl – a local resident and Monty Python fan – simply asked the council to install their own road sign after seeing a similar prank road sign in Sweden. Council member Alderman Jan Willem Mijnans thought it was a great idea, and even demonstrated his own silly walk at the ‘formal’ opening of the crossing!
“It’s nice to see people crossing the street with a smile on their face, and we hope lots of people will do that,” Mijnans said to the crowds. What a legend.
Is the sign permanent?
Hopefully! However, there are some concerns over the extreme-silliness which could be had. Mijnans warned that the sign will be taken down again if it becomes too distracting or threatens road safety.
The funniest part is that the sign has been installed at one of the busiest crossings in the town. Drivers are having to be reminded that traffic rules still apply, so you have to stop your car as normal whilst the people do their silly walks. But hey – at least if you’re late to work, you’ll be thoroughly entertained.
A group of women have also used the road for more good causes (other than plain old silliness); the other night they crossed in lingerie and asked for donations to charity.
— Sjoerd de Vos (@SjoerddeVos_) 1 november 2018
“How crazy can you make it?”
Bijl asked for this because he wanted to honour the absurd British humour of Monty Python, but now even people who haven’t seen the show can enjoy the crossing.
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The small town of Spijkenisse (near Rotterdam, NL) placed this silly walks sign at a pedestrian crossing. Now everyone’s obligated to walk silly ?? . . . #funtheory #pedestrian #spijkenisse #johncleese #sillywalks #funny #urbanenvironment #urbandesign #behaviour #behavior #nudge #nudging #design #behaviordesign #behavioraleconomics #thinkdifferent #choicearchitecture #psychology #socialpsychology
“One small silly step for man, one giant step for laughter”
As a brit myself I must say I felt obliged to write about this one, but the show is super popular here in the Netherlands too. Eindhoven also have a ‘Silly Walks’ mural in the form of a bicycle tunnel. Check it out!
Here’s the full sketch if you don’t know it already, or if you do know it but want to relive some of that extraordinary comedy history:
And all this is just in time too, seeing as International Silly Walk Day – ‘when the world walks silly’ – is in January! This was introduced by Brno in the Czech Republic.
What a time to be alive! If you have any footage of your own silly walks, post them in the comments. We’d love to see them!
(Feat pic by Edmond Wells, Flickr, CC)