Thursday, June 28, 2012

Okay boys and girls, POP quiz. What is this piece of equipment and what is its function?

 Anyone who is intelligent enough to operate a web browser and navigate to this page has probably correctly answered that this is a pedestrian signal button, also called by other names, some more derogatory than others, like the booger button. It's function is to change this:

To this:

Eventually, at least. The problem arises when a pedestrian fails to push this button. All sorts of chaos ensues. People cross against the hand, but you see, the signal box doesn't know they are crossing, and so it doesn't allow the extra time allotted by the ped button. Instead, the light turns red, the other directions get a green, and the pedestrian gets caught in the middle of the street and invariably yells at a driver or five causing everyone to get unnecessarily upset.

It never ceases to amaze me when I'm sitting at a stop light and a pedestrian is standing next to me, within an easy finger's reach of the button. Without pushing the button they will stare at the signal, then look at me. Stare... look.

Then they'll ask me "Are you gonna write me a ticket if I cross?"

Nope.  Not if you just push that happy little button and wait for the signal to change.  How bout that?

For some reason I always get some crazy look from these folks, like I just told them to pat their head and rub their tummy while they hop in circles on one foot.  It seems such a foreign concept to people when a police officer tells them to obey the law for their own safety and the safety of others.  All I'm asking you to do is push one lousy stinking button and wait an extra thirty seconds for the signal to change.

Is that really so much to ask?  Can you take the extra thirty seconds to avoid getting hit by a car or causing a crash because drivers are not expecting to see you there?

It's even more fun when they look at me crazy then cross against the signal anyway.

Let's just say it takes me longer than thirty seconds to write the ticket...


DJMooreTX said...

I have to say that people may have been trained by experience to ignore the button. At most intersections I've had experience with, they seem to have no effect on the lights at all.

On the other hand, almost always at those intersections, the walk light does in fact come on during the regular cycle; all you have to do is wait for it.

On the gripping hand, at intersections I frequent, the traffic, too, has a rhythm to it, and at some hours of the day is completely negligible. If I look both ways and see no cars for more than a block in either direction, I'm not gonna wait for the light.

Finally, though, if I did look in both directions, and saw you or your cruiser, I'd wait. I'm not an idiot.

I'll also say that anybody who crosses against actual traffic deserves what ever happens to them, be it you or a fast-moving bumper.

Moose said...

You mean that button isn't Push Button for Disco Music? That isn't the figure of someone dancing?

I used to have to cross a fairly busy intersection of a 4 lane road to go to work in the mornings. I always pushed the button, but that didn't matter to selfish @%#%wad drivers who felt their need to make a "right on red" superseded my need to cross the street lately. The worst offenders? The public school "cops" from the building next door. I used to try to smack their cars with my cane when they'd nearly plowed into me as I'd legally cross the road (usually while honking at me and/or screaming at me to get out of their way). I always wondered what would have happened had I made contact.

I have great respect for the police overall, but these clowns were clearly picked from the bottle of a barrel. I'm not sure what the barrel was full of, either. Ah, well, there's always some bunch of dopes to try to ruin the reputation of the rest of the good guys.

Jon said...

I never realized that the button added a delay to allow for pedestrians to cross. I thought it just alerted the system and perhaps sped up the changing of the signal, in the absence of other stimuli. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

They are trying for the Darwin Award

Officer "Smith" said...


When the ped signal says "WALK", the green light stays green longer than if it's just a car. That's the delay I'm referring to.

ScotchDave said...

I'm glad you wrote about this, I've thought about this many times.

I'm an orthodox Jew and on the sabbath we are forbidden from operating electronics, among other things, and therefore end up walking places on Friday nights and Saturdays. The prohibition on electronics does extend to th pushing traffic buttons.

We kind of have a catch 22 as we need to cross, but can't push the button and there's normally no-one else to push it.

We have asked the city to put the crossings in our area onto walk automatically during the sabbath, but they don't seem to care. I'm sure I'll get a ticket one day, but I won't be able to sign it as there's no writing on the sabbath either...

Annoys the hell out of me.

Officer "Smith" said...

Wow Dave, that's kind of a bitch.

If you don't sign the citation in California, you go to jail until you can see a judge. Is there a prohibition against wearing handcuffs and getting your booking picture taken on the Sabbath? How about riding in the back of a patrol car?

Although I am open minded enough to get all your info and come see you the following day for a signature, not all cops think like that. Nor are they required to.

Catch 22 is putting it lightly.

ScotchDave said...

Hi OS,

I thought the consequences for signing a ticket could be a bit steep, but going to jail seems a bit harsh, though I can see the point.

As you suggest, riding in cars and going to jail are sub optimal Sabbath activities, one being forbidden and the other being likely to interfere with the spiritual tranquility and attending synagogue part of the day.

I guess I will cross that bridge when I come to it, which I hopefully never will, and hope I get an officer who is willing to be considerate. :)


Charles Pergiel said...

Pedestrians and cars should not be allowed on the same planet, much less try to share pavement.

Officer "Smith" said...


Don't forget bicycles!