Tuesday Trivia…Pedestrian Crossing Button.
This is the only pedestrian crossing button I have encountered in Paris.
The first device for pedestrians in Paris was introduced in 1930 at the Pont des Arts in the form of a push button.
While we often wonder if pressing the pedestrian crossing button does actually do anything (often referred as “placebo buttons”), we don’t have this problem in Paris as I have only found one pedestrian crossing with them. We don’t push a button to cross the road we just wait (or often not wait) until the little man turn green.
Most busy junctions in major cities are automated by a central computer and programmed to optimize traffic, so the red and green man comes when the traffic lights turn. I guess Paris decided that “placebo buttons” weren’t needed.
This is what I found when doing some research if we had any “power” over the Crossing button 😉
Crosswalk buttons aren’t designed to have an immediate effect; they’re just supposed to tell the system that a person is waiting to cross. Some systems won’t ever give pedestrians the crossing signal unless someone has pressed the button, while others are programmed to shorten the wait time for walkers when the button has been pressed. No matter what, the system still has to cycle through its other phases to give cars enough time to pass through the intersection, so you’ll probably still have to stand there for a moment.
During busy traffic times or under other extenuating circumstances, however, cities can switch the system to what’s known as “recall mode,” when pedestrian crossings are part of the cycle already and pressing the button quite literally changes nothing.
As congestion has increased and the systems to manage it have become more advanced over the years, cities have moved away from using crosswalk buttons at all. In 2018, for example, CNN reported that only around 100 of New York City’s 1000 buttons were still functioning. Since actually removing the buttons from crosswalks would be a costly endeavor, cities have opted to leave them intact, just waiting to be pummeled by impatient pedestrians who don’t know any better.
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