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April 26th, 2002

Push Button Wait for Walk Signal

My friends, my friends: while there have been large dupes in recent years, I propose that there is a much larger dupe afoot: the button at intersections labeled, simply, “Push Button Wait for Walk Signal.”

There has never been an instance I have witnessed in which one has pressed the PBWFWS and directly caused the walk signal to appear. One would think that would be the case, after all, since the sign tells the pedestrian that pressing the button will cause the walk signal to appear. But I’ve never not seen the walk signal appear – ever. That includes my years of living in the suburbs as well as my time in the city.

Thus, I firmly believe that the PBWFWS is a placebo. The sign will change without your intervention – so why is it there? My theory is that it gives the ped a chance to feel empowered. “I press this button, I cause the walk signal to appear! Ha ha, I can force traffic to stop and wait for me!” It seems to be a rather unnecessary thing; consider it the appendix to the human body that is an intersection.

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 12:56:08 am
I'm convinced that it rings a doorbell in some distant person's house.

It took me a while to realize that pushing the button doesn't make the walk signal appear any faster, but just that ensures that it WILL appear during the next rotation of the light.

Speaking of walk signals, do any of you MWC grads remember the light on route 3 by the college that when you get halfway across the street, the walk signal switched the blinking hand? It would take a champion sprinter to make it across before the blinking hand...

FROM: Matt
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 1:04:38 am
Yes that light is f'd up.

FROM: Patrick
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 9:05:28 am
Ryan, the light still does that....

FROM: Elizabeth
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 12:25:20 pm
Not to brag, but I know of three lights in Fort Collins (City Park/Mulberry, the one to get to Lincoln Junior High, and another one by one of the elementary schools) that will change right after you press the button. I'm pretty sure the ones by the schools are like this because children use them regularly. But the one at City Park and Mulberry just rules, especially because it's on my way to the co-op.

I'll miss these lights, as I'm moving in 2 weeks. However, I don't think I'll have any streetlights to complain about at all in Guinea (in Africa).. maybe in the capitol. probably not in my town (Kankan).

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 1:36:08 pm
Elizabeth, that's not bragging - it's reducing my entire worldview into a tiny pulp that can be stepped on and disposed! (Dramatic? Me?)

And, of course, after I wrote this Ping two people told me that they knew of intersections where the button really worked.

FROM: Greg
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 3:32:00 pm
I once used the PBWFWS to change a traffic light. There were no cars going my direction so I can assume that the light changed just for me. Why do these button exist when for the most part they don't do anything? It's the government getting our finger prints.

FROM: Elizabeth
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 7:12:37 pm
Oh, a conspiracy! Another one is that when you see planes drawing lines in the sky, they're really government spy-panes releasing mind-controlling chemicals. Get the gas masks!

Paul, maybe things are different in Colorado because of the large number of hippies? I never ran into any friendly PSWFWSs in Minnesota.. maybe it's a regional thing.

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday April 26, 2002 -- 7:53:36 pm
There are always black helicopters outside my window.

FROM: steve
DATE: Sunday May 5, 2002 -- 1:12:03 am
there is a gap between the top and bottom half of the little man, as if to imply that he is wearing pants

FROM: Big Fat Lizard
DATE: Friday June 14, 2002 -- 6:30:48 am
They work in my area - they don't stop the traffic - but hence it ensures the little white walking guy comes up on the sign after you press it...otherwise I think it's ALWAYS the blinking hand......

DATE: Friday September 6, 2002 -- 12:18:29 pm
They tend to work in the UK. The major problem is that there may be a delay ranging from a few seconds upto almost a minute (depending on how recently it has previously been used) and if there is a big enough gap in the traffic, the pedestrian takes it. Hence the motorist just sits there while it makes the noise to assist the visually impaired and no-one benefits. Also kids just press the button for the heck of it when they have no intent to cross the road.

FROM: teeinep
DATE: Friday September 6, 2002 -- 1:07:19 pm
Thinking back to my younger days as a teenager learning to burn rubber in New Jersey, at some intersections, there were these mysterious hard rubber mats installed into the roadway. The mats were about a foot wide and spanned the one or two lanes leading into some intersections. We thought that by driving over the mat, we were letting the traffic signal know there was a car present, and the light would either stay green if it was green, or turn green if it was red. So at a red light we would put the car in reverse, then put the car in drive, and "rock" the car until eventually, the light turned green. The response time for all our effort was about as bad as the response time for the pedestrian button.

Does anyone from Jersey know the true purpose for the rubber mats? Do they have them in other states? Is it more beneficial to jump out of the driver's seat and run over to the pedestrian button?

FROM: Daniel DeCosta
DATE: Wednesday September 17, 2003 -- 8:19:13 pm
I believe in the pushbuttons. When I push one, it takes time to wait, because when a certain vehicle traffic signal turns red, the light will change. So it proves they DO work!

FROM: Nick
DATE: Saturday January 24, 2004 -- 7:56:54 pm
I know everything on traffic signals and those push buttons DO WORK! When pressed the Walk Signal Appears in the NEXT cycle of the traffic lights. And no matter how much the button is pressed (for those impatient, ignorant pedestrians) The signal controller only registers THE FIRST PUSH!!!
Regarding that blinking hand, that only means to not begin crossing but for pedestrians in the street to continue crossing until a solid hand appears.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Saturday February 28, 2004 -- 10:14:22 am
Aha! The city of New York has admitted that its push buttons do not work.

FROM: Anthony
DATE: Friday April 9, 2004 -- 2:46:17 am
Those mats either:

1. Tell the signal when some car is there so that it can change at some "always-red" lights

2. Tell the signal when you've ran a red light so it can take a picture of you (usually these are inductors embedded in the road)

What is this then?

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