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NYC Crosswalk Buttons are Inoperative

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the technological-pacifier dept.

Technology 569

cdneng2 writes "NY Times has an article that New York crosswalk push buttons are actually ineffective. Apparently, New York City deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals. From the article, 'More than 2,500 of the 3,250 walk buttons that still exist function essentially as mechanical placebos, city figures show.' Well, apparently New York city isn't the only city like this. I guess the answer lies in the same reason why people press the elevator button more than once."

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Most Dangerous Intersections (5, Interesting)

Xeed (308294) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417632)

Surprisingly enough, NY doesn't have any intersections listed in the top 10 most dangerous intersections list [statefarm.com] , compiled by State Farm.

However, you can find the 24 most dangerous intersections in NY, as compiled by the NYPD here [transalt.org] .

Either way, crossing the street isn't the safest thing in the world.

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417666)

That's only because actual commuting done in New York City is done primarily via cabs and subways, both of which are piloted by non-standard citizens who are trained commercially-licensed professional drivers. Of course not as many accidents are going to happen, they're pros.

That being said, it's still dangerous because the cab drivers can occasionally be reckless due to long hours worked.

See here [golala.com] for more zaniness.

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (5, Funny)

wizbit (122290) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417732)

sorry, did I just see the words "New York City" and "professional drivers" in the same sentence?

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (3, Funny)

The Tyro (247333) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417861)

sorry, did I just see the words "New York City" and "professional drivers" in the same sentence?

Yeah... I think I also saw "cabs" in that same sentence, along with "not as many accidents are going to happen"...

I'm sorry... I don't know what to say...

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (5, Funny)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417715)

In England, we have these gutless pedestrian crossings which are too scared to stop traffic if they detect cars approaching, so they wait until there's no traffic around and only then activate the pedestrian sequence.

Well gee thanks, I could've figured out myself that I can get across when there's no cars around...

Even better are the ones with a sensor to see if a pedestrian is waiting. So not only do they pander to any approaching car, but they require the pedestrian to be standing in a particular place otherwise they don't operate at all. Very useful.

So if anyone is reading this story and doesn't have a clue what it means because traffic-light stuff is all greek to you... Bedford city council has jobs waiting for you. Join the ranks of the clueless.

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417733)

Around my area they installed crosswalks with BRIGHT ass leds that flash when someone presses the button. The leds are on both sidewalks as well as two lines on the road itself. These things just command attention, when pressed you can see drivers approaching immediately step on the brakes. IMO they have already saved lives because even I have not noticed the pedestrian before I saw the lights.

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417788)

These things just command attention, when pressed you can see drivers approaching immediately step on the brakes. IMO they have already saved lives because even I have not noticed the pedestrian before I saw the lights.

I don't understand what you mean. Wouldn't it make more sense just to switch the traffic light to red at the crosswalks? Do you have crosswalks across streets without stop signs or signals? That just seems crazy. Now if a guy is going to blow a stop sign or run a red light then a bright flashing LED sure isn't going to stop them from doing that.

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417770)

I assumed everyone knew that most/all crosswalk buttons were non-functional in most cities in the entire country. You mean people actually assumed they worked? That just wouldn't make sense. I've always assumed the signals were simply that - signals. They were there to indicate when you can walk, just like the car signals are there to let you know when you can drive... but neither has any impact.

Re:Most Dangerous Intersections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417797)

The people who push the elevator button more than once are the same type of people who actually move the controller of a video game to the right when trying to make a difficult jump. I used to get so annoyed watching my friends do that. I bet a little chip in the elevator says "Oh my, he pressed the button twice, I better get going!" My job is located off of the most dangerous interesction in MN. People don't even try to cross it. They should just set up a tent, and a little tamborine on a string attatched to the pole so people can hang out for a while while waiting.

Umm... (2, Funny)

Luigi30 (656867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417634)

Isn't that a little obvious? I mean, do ANY of those buttons work anymore?

Anchorage, Alaska (2, Informative)

AlaskanUnderachiever (561294) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417675)

Actually in this town. . .MOST of the buttons work. I was shocked, even the buttons at the court house work.

Re:Umm... (4, Funny)

ScottGant (642590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417752)

I don't believe that any of those buttons work.

I also belive that at the gas station, Regular, Plus and Premium Unleaded all go to the same tank underground.

Coke and Pepsi are all made at the same factory, with a little more sugar going into Pepsi.

I also think my dog is trying to control my brain, the way he looks at me I can just tell he wishes to destroy me...

Re:Umm... (4, Interesting)

cliffy2000 (185461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417815)

"I also belive that at the gas station, Regular, Plus and Premium Unleaded all go to the same tank underground."
Actually, sir, according to a very reputable gas supplier that I know, many gas stations do NOT purchase higher octane fuel. It is far from a preposterous notion, in fact it is a reality at many, many gas stations.

NY C crosswalk buttons dont work? (0, Flamebait)

stroustrup (712004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417635)

As if everything else works there.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Necrobruiser (611198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417637)

fp. sorry, had to do it once.

Just like my gf (5, Funny)

Shard013 (530636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417638)

The buttons don't work

Re:Just like my gf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417713)

The goggles, they do nothing!!!

Re:Just like my gf (4, Funny)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417718)

Have you tried plugging her in first?

If that doesn't work, RTFM. You did get a manual, right?

Re:Just like my gf (4, Funny)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417759)

Sure they do, you just need to use the ol' "three finger salute" ... know what I mean?

Re:Just like my gf (5, Funny)

notque (636838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417842)

Are you sure it isn't user error?

They're not doing it right! (5, Funny)

General Sherman (614373) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417641)

Everybody knows the more times you push it, the faster it goes. Geez.

Re:They're not doing it right! (0)

EvAck (753357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417729)

Not only that, you have to hit the button hard so that the electrons get a better jump start.

Re:They're not doing it right! (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417829)

Your right, just like you can check the condition of the car you are about to buy, by kicking the tyres.

Doesn't surprise me (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417642)

probably installed by a bunch of niggers. Shout out, neeyah. Holla back.

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)__NYC__|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
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g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
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*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


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Just like the Tube (4, Informative)

robbieduncan (87240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417644)

Just like the Open (and Close) Door buttons on most of the London Underground. I see tourists pounding those open buttons on the Central Line all the time. It does nothing but they seem to feel better.

Psychology at work... (5, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417720)

Which is the point, of course. People do feel better if they think they've "done something" about any problem - even one as trivial as opening the currently-closed door. Passively waiting for something to happen doesn't come easily to many of us...

What I find odd are those who hit the 'summon elevator' button more than once - A lift algorithm isn't going to take into account the number of times you press, and I doubt the buttons are pressure-sensitive :-) In fact, it's more likely that the time-of-last-press is one of the inputs to the algorithm, with earlier presses having a priority. So the more you press, the less chance you have of getting a busy lift :-))

Simon

Re:Just like the Tube (4, Funny)

Jon Chatow (25684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417731)

No, they do have a point - the clueless push them, and those of us who have worked this out can share a knowing smirk. Highlights the day's commute, for me... ;-)

Re:Just like the Tube (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417831)

That's why they also have those signs. "Mind: The Gap".

Heh. (5, Funny)

Denyer (717613) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417645)

It's like Ctrl-Alt-Delete for the general public! ;)

or... (5, Funny)

uptownguy (215934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417821)

It's like Ctrl-Alt-Delete for the general public! ;)

...or voting...?

Re:Heh. (0)

notque (636838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417862)

It's like Ctrl-Alt-Delete for the general public!

Are we rebooting the traffic light now? Locking it so that no one uses it until we return?

What a suprise (5, Funny)

Piethon (748147) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417648)

This has to be a lie, the government would never waste our money and mislead us!

Government is actually trying to save money (4, Informative)

Linuxathome (242573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417848)

Actually, according to the article, those buttons aren't taken down in an effort to SAVE money, not waste it. At one point in time they did work, but because of the changes in technology (i.e. changes for emergency vehicles) and traffic patterns, these buttons turned out to be more a hassle then a benefit. But at least they do provide a somewhat "placebo" effect; that is, I am more likely to stay put at that corner on the off-chance that it does work rather than hastily trying to cross against traffic, thereby jeopardizing myself and oncoming traffic.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Redundant)

Momo_CCCP (757200) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417656)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA, the button deactivates you !

Sorry, had to do it...

Chicago (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417657)

They haven't worked in Chicago as long as I can remember. I long forgot about those buttons.

Just like elevators... (2, Interesting)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417659)

It's my understanding that the "Close Door" buttons on elevators only exist for the same reason, and they don't do anything.

Kinda like the "brightness" button on the TV set. (To paraphrase the old joke).

Re:Just like elevators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417673)

the close door button alwas works for me. I use it to duck people I don't want to talk to...

Re:Just like elevators... (2, Funny)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417806)

I digress. The close door button always works for me to prevent the fat woman in accounting from getting on the elevator with me.

Re:Just like elevators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417807)

I've seen one elevator where it does work, but only in certain situations (i.e. the door had been kept from closing automatically).

Button, button (2, Insightful)

Atario (673917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417841)

It's my understanding that the "Close Door" buttons on elevators only exist for the same reason, and they don't do anything.
Use enough elevators and you find every conceivable algorithmic configuration. I've used some where the Close Door doesn't work, and others where it clearly does.

In fact, in the building where I work now, there are two banks of elevators: one for the lower half of the building and another for the upper half (plus ground floor). They all look identical, and so one would think they were. Not so. The lower ones are not only much slower, but also have ineffective Close Door buttons. What possible thinking could be behind this, I don't know.

Televatorkinesis (4, Funny)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417660)


...is the belief that pressing the call button multiple times makes the elevator move faster.

I know it, and I still do it sometimes. Perhaps it's because I just like pushing buttons... like this button right he NO CARRIER

I had my suspicions (4, Informative)

GMontag (42283) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417661)

The ones in Herndon, VA (maybe that should be singular rather than plural) seems to actually work and many in Knoxville, TN will not give you a walk signal unless you pressed the button. But the last time I was in Manhattan, about 2 yrs ago it did not seem to have any effect.

Then again, the "walk" signals did not have much effect on the pedestrians in Manhattan either.

why did the chicken cross the road? (5, Funny)

stroustrup (712004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417662)

The answer is here finally!! Because the button doesn't work

I think (4, Interesting)

jlechem (613317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417663)

Downtown SLC is the same way. They even have LED displays that count down the time until the light changes. It goes from yellow to red when it starts getting close to 0. It also makes a very audible beeping noise as well. If it's made it safer to walk downtown or not I have no clue.

Only for Computerized signals? (1)

eagle8635 (674636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417683)

Is it only for computerized traffic lights? That would explain why all the buttons work where I live.

Re:Only for Computerized signals? (1)

jlechem (613317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417769)

Good question I'm not sure. I live in Kearns and the buttons seem to have an affect here. But I'm pretty sure the downtown ones are 100% automatic.

Re:I think (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417696)

The loud beeping is for the blind you insinsitive clod.

in Ohio (1)

tsunamifirestorm (729508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417670)

when I was in Columbus they didn't even have buttons. It would just automatically show the walk symbol.

pedastrians obey Laws? (5, Interesting)

stonebeat.org (562495) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417672)

I didn't know anyone in NY who waited for a the Walk Signal to turn before start walking. NewYorkers are best at finding the shortest possible route to their destination. And I dont blame them. It is pace of life they experience.

Re:pedastrians obey Laws? (3, Interesting)

addaon (41825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417739)

We obey laws, just not silly ones.

And this article (that the buttons do nothing) is extremely common knowledge. My parents told me when I was about six, and I got the sense their parents did the same for them.

Re:pedastrians obey Laws? (4, Informative)

EngMedic (604629) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417753)

quite so...the easiest way to pick out a tourist in the city is to watch to see if they stop before crossing the street. most of us just dodge between cars.

conversley, the easiest way to tell if someone in your city is actually from new york (or has spent a lot of time there) is to watch them jaywalk like nobody's buisiness.

Re:pedastrians obey Laws? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417838)

The other way to tell they're a tourist is if they're wearing a t-shirt with an advertising slogan on it, unless they're being ironic.

Oh, if they actually play 3-card monte then they're definitely a tourist.

Or if they make eye contact with strangers on the street.

Re:pedastrians obey Laws? (1)

sporty (27564) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417756)

Unfortunately, the same can go for stop signs and parking. People don't stop at stop signs but crawl through them and as for parking, vans and trucks park on corners making it hard to see around, due to lack of parking.


It's just too crowded here.

Re:pedastrians obey Laws? (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417800)

It's the same here. I've come to believe those red and green lights, shaped like a standing and a walking pedestrian are just some form of decoration.

On the other hand those traffic lights sometimes give me some sort of mind control power over other pedestrians. If I wait for a red light, the others wait as well. But a soon as I cross that street, ignoring the red light, many follow. ah, the power!

In other news... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417677)

The Slashdot "Submit Story" button is also just a placebo. "We just post what we want, and we put some user's name on them, " says Malda.

Erm.... and? (5, Interesting)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417681)

This hardly seems like news of any sort. The article contained (through inference) the entire reason for their continued existance - there are still intersections that rely on them.

Computer-controlled traffic lights work a lot better than the old-fashioned timed system. (well, unless the detector screws up, but that's rare) So allowing people to interrupt the sequence would do little good. At the same time, you don't want people standing on one of those 700 crosswalks which will never volunteer a "walk" sign for ages.

So, to make sure that the people use the button in the places they need to, it's easier to leave the buttons on all the intersections. Otherwise, people might not think to use the button when it's necessary, at least not without a lot of time and prompting.

Re:Erm.... and? (1)

corngrower (738661) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417767)

... there are still intersections that rely on them.


You mean there are people in this world who actually wait for a 'walk' signal?

Re:Erm.... and? (1)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417803)

Heh. Well, in my time spent in NYC, I never saw much evidence of it. But it's probably a good thing if the government doesn't *encourage* people to run across busy streets. :-)

Re:Erm.... and? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417786)

One problem I have with crossing the street at one of these is that the light _never_ gives you enough time to cross it. Usually not even half-way across. WTF are they thinking?

Like Boston? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417682)

I'm from the UK, and went on holiday to Boston in the summer - It didn't seem like the buttons there worked, and most people crossed the street anyway, even though I saw a few times an accident nearly happened because of this.

This idea seems like it should cause a lot of accidents, but maybe the traffic is regulated well enough, I don't know.

In the UK, we are so used to pressing the buttons, and most people will not cross without waiting for the lights to change. This seems to be completely different to the way things happen in Boston. By the end of our holiday, I was getting bored of waiting, and took the Bostonian approach to crossing the road - don't bother with the buttons - to the disgust of my mum :-)

Re:Like Boston? (4, Funny)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417834)

Well, the common practice in Boston is for people to cross when they feel like it and to drive when they feel like it.

So basically, unless traffic stops for some reason, people will cross at a break in traffic or when there are enough people to significantly outnumber the cars, forcing them to slow down. Likewise, cars will begin to go once most people have crossed.

It's not so much a matter of regulation as it is that the drivers in Boston are really very good, and are willing to drive to the limits of their abilities.

Scares the shit out everyone else though.

Buttons (4, Informative)

Via_Patrino (702161) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417690)

"same reason why people press the elevator button more than once.

And the same reason people press the reload or submit button more than once... When things don't show any evidence that they're doing what they're supposed to do.

Re:Buttons (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417750)

I've actually found a similar trick that does work. Sometimes a connection will stall and hold up the whole works. Refesh will unlock that and redraw the screen, sometimes is seconds (after waiting minutes). The problem is, that if it stalled because the server is slow, reload drops the cache and can make things worse. I just click on the URL window and hit enter. That closes all the connections and restarts with whatever didn't complete. It works.

Beleive me. I'm the kind of person who always figures out exactly what the button at the crosswalk does. Of course 95% of them add a walk to the cycle that wouldn't be there if you didn't press. I've never seen one that made the cycle faster.

The rarely heard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417693)

...Flava Flav's Pedestrian Crosswalk Buttons Are A Joke! clued us in on this fact quite a few years back.

Facade (3, Funny)

stateofmind (756903) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417699)

My entire life has been a lie!

Re:Facade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417847)

Actually, it's more of an inside joke that you aren't in on.

not only pushing twice (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417702)

i've seen much people even pushing the "down" AND the "up" button on elevators when they want do go up OR down, because: "then it comes faster" ... most of them are to stupid to realise that they just make it stop twice (and taking longer).
everytime i see someone whos doing that i want to punch him ...

Placebo Buttons are useful (3, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417703)

Actually, lots of traffic signals here in Germany have touch-sensitive Buttons, which can't really be pressed. You just touch them and they notice the change in temperature.

Since you don't get any feedback, it doesn't really satisfy and I'm always left with the feeling that it didn't register the request at all.

Lessons in people traning (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417710)

pedestrian 0
cars 1

Cars win another round. Why is it w/ all of this technology, and intercomunication that we still give more rights to a person wrapped in metal (ie a car), than a mere mortal walking across the street.

The article didn't talk about the fact that by having a button by the crosswalk, people are more likely to walk to the button first before crossing the road. This has the potential advantage of reducing J walking. (crossing the street illegaly)

I knew this already (3, Insightful)

YellowElf (445681) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417719)

The real reason is that almost all NYC traffic lights are on a timer anyway. Unlike most areas of the country that have on-demand lights that are sensitive to traffic and keep green for the major roadway, if you wait a minute the light will change anyway. So why interrupt the rare possible synchronized goodness on a Manhattan avenue for the impatient pedestrian?

The downside to this timer approach is that you often wait for nobody at red lights at 3am. Stooopid lazy NYC planners.

Either that or the trigger antennas that they would need to place under the roadway can't take the winter punishment.

--dv

Hmm... a better "Sex and the City" ending (5, Funny)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417722)

Carrie, glancing back over her shoulder at Mr. Big, smiling to herself in complete satisfaction, presses the button and strides out into the busy NY street.

Carrie: "Life... I started thinking about Paris, and how love AAHGHHHRGHH!!!"

-- taxi cab grinds Carrie into the asphalt, and the credits begin to roll ---

Yes, my girl friend made me watch that damn show for an entire year. The demise of that vile, high-priced sitcom has filled me with a joy not felt since childhood.

boston (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417723)

For years, I've suspected that the "walk" buttons in Boston didn't do anything. Now I'm sure of it.

Control (5, Interesting)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417735)

There was something like that in a Kurt Vonnegut novel whose title has slipped my mind. Something about an automated spaceship with only two controls: a START button, and a STOP button (the latter isn't connected to anything.) The point being that humans feel better when they think they have control over their fate.

Actually, it's probably a moot point - I've never met a New Yorker who actually waits for the light.

Operative at some in Toronto (5, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417741)

At some intersections in Toronto, not only does the walk button work, but unless it's pressed, the walk signal never lights up. (Kind of a pain when the button isn't right at the corner and has a lot of snow around it.) It would be nice if they'd mark the "Cars Prefered" crossings to let people know.

Ha! Proven correct after all these years (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417742)

I was once in a rather rocky relationship with a girl which ended when I told her not to bother pressing the button.

"It doesn't do anything, these juntions are automated."

"That is exactly the kind of cynical attitude I'm absolutely fed up with. You have no faith in anything."

She stomped off across the road like an enraged frogger, dodging the still flowing traffic.

Mods (0, Offtopic)

stateofmind (756903) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417744)

So after all this time of repeatedly pushing the reload button, I wasn't gaining mod points? It just had to with the content of my post?

Bastards....

They aren't really necessary... (4, Insightful)

cabingirl (671963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417751)

Crosswalk buttons are just a signal to drivers that a person is planning to cross the street. In big, pedestrian cities like New York, you don't need the buttons because there's almost always someone waiting to cross the street, and drivers know this. In my life, the only place I've made a point to use the buttons is in the suburban area where I live now, because a person standing on a streetcorner may or may not be waiting to cross the street, and the drivers are really bad at yielding to pedestrians.

A Story (5, Funny)

Crusty Oldman (249835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417760)

A guy I know was in charge of a medium-sized office. He was forever plagued by the women asking him to turn the thermostat up during the winter (the guys saying "turn it down, we're dying in here"). When the office was remodeled, he had a new thermostat installed in a closet, and had the old one unconnected. He put the biggest complainer "in charge" of that thermostat, and never had a problem since. True story.

Australia (1)

CatPieMan (460995) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417764)

One of the things I remember that I had to get used to when I went to Australia is that their buttons are the only way to get the signal telling you it is ok to walk.

While you can go at any time, cars have to stop when you have the walk and get impatient if you cross and do not have the blessing of the automated white hand.

-CPM

I'VE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR YEARS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417766)

Finally the truth is out there. Now on to the big one... Area 51. Thanks folks.

My local pelican crossing... (1)

holizz (737615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417775)

won't change lights if you don't press it. However, I have noticed some interesting `features'.
If you press the button when there's no traffic nearby the lights go almost immediately. However, if the button is pressed when traffic is anywhere near the lights they wait for ages before changing. If you press it when traffic is near then the traffic moves away from the light it takes longer than when there's no traffic and I think it's shorter than when there's lots of traffic. So basically they don't change when I most need them to. I miss a lot of busses that way.

Can you get traffic light changers to make the pedestrian lights green?

Could be even worse (5, Interesting)

jks (269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417776)

There is an intersection in the outskirts of Helsinki, Finland, where the push button works even worse. This is an intersection between two pretty big roads with major traffic, and there's a standard traffic light cycle going from "green for road A" to "green for road B", etc. If you are a pedestrian walking in the direction of either road, you need to push the button, and will eventually get a green light at the same time as the drivers on the same road. Now, guess what: the only way the button affects the lights is that you get a green light the next time it's possible -- if you don't push the button, the cycle is exactly the same except that the pedestrian light is red all the time. So the button does nothing but you need to push it to cross legally.

Time's up! (0)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417785)

I have always loved how crosswalk signs never give enough time to even get halfway across the intersection before turning to "Don't Walk."

Elevator close door buttons (1)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417791)

My apartment complex's elevators hold the doors open for a long time, far longer than any other elevator I've ever used. This wouldn't irritate me so much except that the Close Doors button doesn't do anything. It doesn't matter if you push the button or not, the doors will close when they're damn well good and ready.

Stupid elevator.

how to drive the visually impaired community crazy (2, Interesting)

RaymondRuptime (596393) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417792)

My wife is an orientation and mobility (O&M) instructor, teaching independent travel skills to the blind and visually impaired. A specific task is to teach them how to navigate through cities and make safe intersection crossings. This is the sort of thing that can make O&M people and their clients crazy: "When you reach this intersection, go to the right and find the pedestrian signal activation button. Not that it matters."

some news... (1)

ctk76 (531418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417796)

here in nyc, i don't think anybody thought those buttons worked for at least last 20 years. and that's about as far as my memory goes.

I love old time mechanical crosswalk setups (4, Funny)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417798)

There was in town, until just a few years ago a fairly busy intersection that had a crosswalk and a very old button setup, it would when pressed within 5 or so seconds change the light, and would continue to as long as it was pressed, when we were kid we used to hold traffic up just for the fun of it, but at other times, you could time cars, press the button and watch them schreech to a halt.

We knew it all along ... (2, Funny)

gordguide (307383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417799)

That either traffic engineers are mismanaging traffic, or city councils can be talked into anything, or reporters are morons.

From the San Mateo article linked in the story:
" ... "The city should also consider looking in audio crossing signals for the hearing impaired ..." Victor said. ..."

What's next? Traffic lights for the blind?

Offtopic hardware question for experts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417801)

Hey gurus! I need a hand!

I have one 256MB stick of PC133 memory, and one 128MB stick of PC100.

So the question is: is it better to run 256MB of RAM at 133 or 384MB of RAM at 100?

THANKS!

Sounds familiar (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417816)

Kind of like the United States voting system. Hell the entire interface between the people and the government. Corporations are the only entities that have access to the real buttons.

Audio??? (0, Redundant)

cuban321 (644777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417830)

From the San Mateo Article:<br>
<br>
<i>"The city should also consider looking in audio crossing signals for the hearing impaired"</i><br>
<br>
Audio signals for the <u>hearing</u> impaired? Why not just say there is an audio signal? Audio signals for the hearing impaired can be just as useless as the button itself!

I hit the elevator button a lot (1)

quantax (12175) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417833)

In my apt building (I live in NYC), the elevators are about 60 years old, and theres 3 of them. Each has their own 'personality', such as the left one which when opening makes a loud metal-on-metal screetch/bang, or the center elevator which ALWAYS gets off 1 floor below the one you hit and then thinks it has hit your floor so moves onto whatever anyone else has pressed. The right one is usually 'normal' except when it fails; id say on average each car fails 2 - 3 times a year. So yes, I hit the button a couple times, since these old-doddering elevators need to be reminded quite often of where you want them to take you.

On a seperate note, I've never seen anyone hit the traffic buttons, and the walk-signs are merely a formality; its not like people actually pay attention to them when walking across the street. Most NYC'ers use the following logic for crossing the street: Is there a car coming? If so, can I cross without getting hit? If its ok, walk.

Even more fun (2, Insightful)

Phs2501 (559902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417839)

Even more fun and games can be had when trying to ride your bicycle where there are car-and-button activated lights. Since you're riding your bicycle on the street like you should, and not the sidewalk, you can't hit the pedestrian button to make the lights change. But since you're on the side of the street you're not in the right place to set off the car sensing loop, and your bike doesn't have enough metal to make it go anyway.

So you wind up having to get off the bike, walk to the pedestrian button, hit it, get back on, and wait. Given this, I wish everything worked like New York in this regard.

Did you know it's an offence in the UK? (3, Funny)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417843)

To press the pedestrian buttons as you walk past...







... I can't help it!




here in miami... (0)

Wolface (740944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417850)

Doesn't matter anymore. No one cares about the green, yellow or that red light. you see tourists pressing the button and miamians crossing whenever they feel like to.

Audio?? (1)

cuban321 (644777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417851)

From the San Mateo Article:

"The city should also consider looking in audio crossing signals for the hearing impaired"

Audio signals for the hearing impaired? Why not just say there is an audio signal? Audio signals for the hearing impaired can be just as useless as the button itself!

It's just like voting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8417852)

[someass]

This is not news (2, Informative)

treat (84622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417859)

Everyone in New York knows this. Everyone in the area knows that they have a good chance of working in most places but they don't do anything in the city.

This is not news. This is "guide to New York for tourists from Idaho".

Doesn't really matter... (1)

waytoomuchcoffee (263275) | more than 10 years ago | (#8417860)

As long as SOME of them are still working, you need to push the damn thing anyway, unless you know for certain that your particular one is deactivated.
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