General Question

brownlemur's avatar

Does pushing the crosswalk button actually make the light change, or is it just a psychological button?

Asked by brownlemur (4081points) January 7th, 2008

Are we fooling ourselves by thinking these buttons actually work? Or do they work? Is it like pushing the elevator button several times even though it is already lit up?

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12 Answers

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

In my city, some streetlights are set on timers (usually main streets with lots of motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic), some change the second you press the button (usually streets with lots of m.v. traffic and not much pedestrian), and some incorporate pedestrian walk-signals into the cycle after the button is pressed.

bob's avatar

In other words, yes, pressing the button does something. See above for what.

Perchik's avatar

Around our campus the buttons definitely work. All of our crosswalks have beepers on them for seeing-imparied people. If the button has not been pressed, these beepers do not go off. When the button is pressed, the light changes fairly soon, and the beepers start beeping to let people know it’s safe to cross. The beeper speeds up when the time is almost out. It’s pretty cool and it’s proof that the buttons do something [here at least].

Northstate's avatar

Yeah – they actually do function is some loacles to trip the “walking man” – however…IT DOES NOT HELP TO PRESS IT 48 TIMES!!! God that really annoys me to sit there and watch people press it over and over and over – as if the computer controlling the lights will begin to think – “Man, I need to hurry up and change cause this guy is in a hurry. Really people…. :)

Northstate's avatar

LoL – Good post kevbo

adrianscott's avatar

@Northstate I know what you mean… the buttons around here make an audible sound so it’s pretty freaking annoying. I think it would have been funny if the developers of the code that controls the crosswalk added a function that increased the amount of time to change the light the more you pressed. At least it’d cut down on the number of presses (by most people), but sadly those people that continue to press them over and over, much to the annoyance of the other bystanders, would probably get beaten up at some point.

Northstate's avatar

@adrianscott – No doubt. How funny would that be. Every time you press it past the first time it adds like 2 seconds or something. After the 10th press it allows the regular car traffic to cycle once more before you get to go. :) I love it!

bob's avatar

I like pressing the button multiple times. It makes me happy.

adrianscott's avatar

Maybe a good solution would be to display the amount of time remaining until the walk signal appears. That may discourage people from hammering on the button because who really knows the logic and timing behind that stuff anyway?

lifeflame's avatar

Yes, they’ve installed the countdown in Hong Kong and it has really cut the amount of jay-walking.
We have push to cross buttons too, but like the traffic likes in NY I suspect that majority have been deactivated.

smb's avatar

The fact that the beeper works only on the pressing of the button does not imply that the ‘button works.’ People tend to think and are lead to believe that the button is meant to timely change the oncoming traffic to red allowing you to walk. The button, especially being on a heavily trafficked campus, can easily just act to initiate this audible system (*see below) but not decrease the time in which it takes to allow free crossing. Reading from various sources, the majority if not all of traffic crossing buttons are ineffective – some do nothing at all while others only work between late evening or night and early morning hours. It’s easy to imagine why traffic engineers would put heavily trafficked intersections – either by pedestrians or vehicles – or any intersection during daytime on a timed walk interval as allowing people to initiate signal change on a whim could severely hurt the flow of traffic.

Also, @ perchik – It doesn’t make sense why a visual impairment system would only work upon the pressing of the button. That could easily lead to a blind person missing the button or its purpose losing the safety feature. May want to check that again.

By the way – of related note – elevator door close buttons do nothing.

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