james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The logic of requiring pedestrians to press a button for the pedestrian crosswalk sign to change, rather than just linking it to the traffic lights.

Date: 2017-07-24 04:52 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
For some crosswalks around here, the duration of the light is different if people are crossing, and some lights controlling turns stay red while the crossing light is green.

Date: 2017-07-24 05:09 pm (UTC)
theweaselking: (Default)
From: [personal profile] theweaselking
Also if there's pedestrians crossing, a turn signal might have to wait and go green separately instead of going green at the same time.

Date: 2017-07-24 05:22 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] bwross
Yep. I once was walking up to an intersection and saw the crosswise traffic lights go from green to amber. So I said to myself, "no need to walk over and hit the button as things are going to change before I can anyways". And after a few seconds, the light changed... back to green. Clearly the system was set up to prefer traffic strongly along one street, and if you wanted to cross the other way, you needed to hit the button (or have a vehicle sitting over sensors on the road). Otherwise that part of the cycle would be skipped when it came up.

Date: 2017-07-24 05:08 pm (UTC)
kedamono: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kedamono
You as a pedestrian must beg the Traffic Gods permission to cross their sacred paths for the metal gods that rule our lives!

Really, it's based on the belief that streets are for cars, not people. This belief has only existed for less than a century. The Strong Towns movement cover this issue quite well.


It's called the begging button by a lot of people, traffic engineers included, for a reason.

Date: 2017-07-24 05:09 pm (UTC)
conuly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] conuly
In many places, those lights are decoys.

Date: 2017-07-24 05:45 pm (UTC)
jhetley: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jhetley
So it can malfunction.

Date: 2017-07-24 05:48 pm (UTC)
metahacker: And then a miracle occurs... (You need to be more explicit in step 2, here!)  (miracle)
From: [personal profile] metahacker
Here in Boston, the pedestrian buttons often make all lights go red at once.

Sometimes quite suddenly--a few crosswalks, pressing the button results in an immediate yellow for the green direction.

But they also provide endless opportunities for people to bang and slam the buttons repeatedly; a sort of communal percussion instrument, if you will.

Date: 2017-07-24 09:56 pm (UTC)
theweaselking: (Default)
From: [personal profile] theweaselking
When that happens, often what's happened is that the light is "green until an interrupt" because the side street/pedestrian crossway is relatively unused.

So it goes green on the main route, until a crossing car or pedestrian arrives. And since the "it's been main green long enough" timer has LONG since expired, it goes instantly into "wait..... OK STOP" for the other direction.

Date: 2017-07-24 11:20 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
The traffic light nearest my house has buttons for pedestrians to push, a sensor in the road to produce green lights for the cross street, and otherwise stays green for vehicles on Mass Ave (the main street). This means it can go from green for Mass Ave, to a walk sign for me, and back to green for Mass Ave if no cars on the cross street arrive before the walk light goes on.

[This is in Arlington, btw.]

Date: 2017-07-24 06:06 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
There's also the case where the non-visual walk signal gets activated only when the button gets pressed, rather than all the time.

Date: 2017-07-24 07:48 pm (UTC)
ellarien: Blue/purple pansy (Default)
From: [personal profile] ellarien
Around here, sometimes the lights are there *only* to serve the crossing, so they're always green unless the pedestrian button has been pressed. But those are crossings away from intersections, and having those light-controlled doesn't seem to be a thing in the North American cities I've visited.

Date: 2017-07-24 08:04 pm (UTC)
cyprinella: goat standing in front of a banner reading "DOOM" (goat doom)
From: [personal profile] cyprinella
No, here in the Mid-Atlantic we like to have our mid-street cross walks unsignaled so that pedestrians can cross legally and pray that the oncoming traffic is paying enough attention or cares enough to stop in time. You may get a fine if you blow through a crosswalk with a person in it if any cop's around to stop you but otherwise? Frogger was really cool, guys. Don't you want to play?

Date: 2017-07-24 09:18 pm (UTC)
jsburbidge: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jsburbidge
Ontario recently changed its law so that a driver coming up to a zebra crossing that is in use has to stop as long as the pedestrian is on the street, even if they're not directly in front of the car. I have no idea as to whether this has improved pedestrian injury statistics.

Date: 2017-07-25 12:24 am (UTC)
cyprinella: German Shepherd carrying a plastic leg (shedder leg)
From: [personal profile] cyprinella
We're supposed to do that as well, but most people don't stop until someone's a few feet into the roadway because if they're waiting somewhere safe, they obviously are waiting for the car to pass entirely. And given how infrequently I see people actually stop, I don't blame people for waiting. I pass a couple of crosswalks near a train station every day that I make sure to check for waiting walkers but any time I stop, I'm also waiting to get rear ended.

Date: 2017-07-26 10:14 am (UTC)
dormouse1953: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dormouse1953
I was once walking in south London on a Sunday afternoon and wanted to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing. Pressed the button and as the lights changed to red a car came along the road. It was a quiet afternoon, no traffic about, I hadn't set foot on the road yet, so they sped up to jump the red. And then saw a police car parked on the road with a policeman inside. A squeal of brakes and the car stopped actually on the crossing. I had to walk round it.

Date: 2017-07-25 02:46 am (UTC)
snippy: Lego me holding book (Default)
From: [personal profile] snippy
In Oregon (USA) all intersections are automatically pedestrian-priority crosswalks, with two caveats: if there is a traffic signal, pedestrians also have to obey it; and the pedestrian's priority starts when they put one foot in the street, if they are just standing on the sidewalk (even if they are clearly waiting for traffic to stop) they don't have priority, they have to put one foot in the street. Cars must stop until the crossing pedestrian is more than 10 feet out of the lane the car is/would be in.

Rule also applies to marked crosswalks that are not at intersections.

It doesn't work, though. I can't even get cop cars to stop. I flip them off, they flip me off back.

Date: 2017-07-25 05:52 am (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
What Snippy said, plus the habit of Portland Oregon drivers to slow and then stop in the middle of the street if they spot a pedestrian near a corner. Sometimes it's necessary to turn away from the car and walk away down the sidewalk to get them moving again.

Date: 2017-07-26 03:37 pm (UTC)
kitryan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kitryan
Yes, being a NYC transplant to Portland was so frustrating! They would keep stopping for me when there wasn't anyone behind them and they had a green light or they'd stop but other lanes of traffic couldn't see me and were still going so I couldn't cross anyway - and I was so used to just making my own way that it was just a pain, and not really helpful at all.

Date: 2017-07-25 09:28 am (UTC)
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
Frogger was great. I used to quite like playing it on the roads too, but then I used up my first life(*) and now I detour to the pedestrian crossing and wait for the lights to change like a law-abiding citizen and everything.

(*) Just a broken toe; I got lucky.

But I did find a .swf version of Frogger somewhere so I can still indulge yearnings for the joys of childhood in a safer environment.

Date: 2017-07-25 09:38 am (UTC)
dormouse1953: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dormouse1953
Many crossing in the UK are away from intersections.

Near Guildford town centre, there's a triangular traffic island at a t-junction, and you have to wait for one set of lights to get on to the island and another set to get off again.

Date: 2017-07-24 10:02 pm (UTC)
theweaselking: (Default)
From: [personal profile] theweaselking
Bonus: In rural Mexico, the lights are green, and red. No yellow. And crosswalks do not flash Don't Walk before going Don't Walk.

Oh, and there's zero downtime while all 4 lights are red.

Instead, there is a zero-notice change from "walk" to "don't walk", with an accompanying change from "red" to "green" on the crosstreet that EXACTLY matches the "green" to "red" in the other direction.

My main point is it could be much worse.

(Meanwhile in Quebec: In Aylmer, sometimes a 4-way light will go all-red for drivers and all-4-ways go for pedestrians. When there are no pedestrians. For several minutes at a time since its a crossing between a 6 lane road and a 4 lane road, so the nonexistent pedestrians "need extra time to cross".)

Date: 2017-07-24 10:11 pm (UTC)
jamoche: Prisoner's pennyfarthing bicycle: I am NaN (Default)
From: [personal profile] jamoche
As a stick shift driver, I miss the British yellow-and-red stage that lets you know it's time to shift out of neutral.

Date: 2017-07-25 09:34 am (UTC)
dormouse1953: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dormouse1953
We actually call that colour amber in the UK.

Date: 2017-07-27 06:56 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Technically it's amber in the US as well, but I have never heard anyone outside the Highway Code refer to the amber light as anything but yellow.

Teka Lynn

Date: 2017-07-25 06:20 am (UTC)
drplokta: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drplokta
The traffic lights have sensors in the road, and won't change if there are no cars waiting. Without a pedestrian button, a pedestrian waiting to cross with no cars waiting at the light would have a long wait, because the lights wouldn't change until a car arrived.

Date: 2017-07-25 05:08 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
Or you sneak an anvil on to the sensor.

Of course, this does present opportunities for logistical excitements.

Date: 2017-07-26 02:53 pm (UTC)
beamjockey: Gorilla playing accordion (gorilla)
From: [personal profile] beamjockey
Under these circumstances, I envision pedestrians (actually, I'm picturing James) towing small, wheeled anvils behind them as they stroll around town.

One would have to roll one's anvil into the road over the sensor-- watching for cars-- then wait for the light to change, then quickly yank on the anvil's leash, then cross the street, anvil following faithfully behind.

Date: 2017-07-26 03:33 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
I would tend to expect more the tilting handcart sort of setup, because any wheeled anvil on a leash can make very wide turns behind you, to the great detriment of someone's ankles.

There are versions of those sensors for bicycles; originally it was just a bit more sensitivity, because there's not all that much steel in a steel bike frame. Then it turned into "it's nigh-all carbon fiber and what isn't carbon is titanium, detect that" as a sort of grudge match. (I am given to understand that the usual induction mechanism can be tuned to detect such bicycles, but it will than also detect cowboy-style belt buckles in the crosswalk and many dog collars.)

Date: 2017-07-25 01:16 pm (UTC)
thewayne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thewayne
I recently listened to a podcast series called How To Live In Denmark, done by an American woman living over there. She said with zero traffic on a Sunday, Danes will still wait for a light to change before crossing a street.

Date: 2017-07-25 05:09 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
Of course!

Think of the embarrassment if you crossed without waiting, got hit, and had the terrible luck to survive. You'd be known for your incompetence forever.

Date: 2017-07-25 08:18 pm (UTC)
magedragonfire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] magedragonfire
Well, yes. It's exactly when you think you're safe that a car will come out of the fourth or fifth dimension right towards you.

Date: 2017-07-27 06:57 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I do that myself. My father was killed when he jaywalked. I take no chances.

Date: 2017-07-26 10:24 am (UTC)
dormouse1953: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dormouse1953
When I lived in Lewisham in London, my flat was on a main road, the A20 out to Kent. On Saturdays I used to go out and get a paper before breakfast and the nearest newsagents was the other side of the road. There was a controlled crossing, what we call a pelican crossing, right outside the newsagents (not on an intersection).

One day I went and got my paper and when I looked at the front page there was a bit about a court case involving a motorist knocking over a pedestrian on a pelican crossing in Lewisham.

Pelican crossings have the black and white stripes of a zebra crossing between the traffic lights. They also have white zig-zag markings on the approach to the lights on either side of the traffic lane. It appears that the lawyer for the motorist had argued that the zig-zags for this crossing were the wrong way round, they zigged when they should have zagged. Therefore it was not a valid pelican crossing and the charge was reduced from Dangerous Driving to Driving without due Care and Attention.

The next time I had cause to walk past the pelican crossing I'd used to get the paper, they were repainting the zig-zags.

Date: 2017-07-26 11:15 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If there are no pedestrians waiting to cross you don't want to delay traffic by turning the lights to red. A button may be the cheapest/simplest sensor to detect the presence of a waiting pedestrian.

As already mentioned this is particularly the case when the crosswalk is not at an intersection and the only purpose of the traffic lights is to support a pedestrian crossing.

Date: 2017-07-26 11:17 am (UTC)
birguslatro: Birgus Latro III icon (Default)
From: [personal profile] birguslatro
It's so if a pedestrian is run over you know who's fault it was.

Date: 2017-07-26 12:00 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Is the signal you're talking about for a minor street crossing a major route?

If so, absent the button being pushed, the cross-street only gets a green signal for cars if cars are detected waiting. Once the cars are gone, the signal turns red. If the system is working properly, that green period for the cross-street might be very short, much shorter that required for the pedestrian to cross.

The logic being that this will impede the traffic on the main road as little as possible.

Of course, if there are *more cars* detected on the side street, the light stays green for quite a long time. But if you, the lowly pedestrian, push the "I want to cross" button a microsecond after it's turned green, you'll have to wait until the next green signal, whenever that will be.

Personally, I find this arrangement dangerous, as there are many people who neglect to push the button, and either stand around like perplexed penguins, or start crossing on the green to be caught in mid-crossing (of a 'major' street, mind you) with their light going red. Not to mention, "Who cares about pedestrians. They can push a button for all we care."


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