Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Standin' on the corner

One of what is probably a hundred different recurring tropes on clerkmanifesto is the perfidy of traffic signals. Wouldn't you think that a blog that periodically addresses the perfidy of traffic signals would be considerably more popular?

I know, me too! 

While I have discussed the evils of traffic lights at intersections for cars, particularly as related to busy intersections that experience long periods of time with no vehicles passing through them, the main focus of my barely contained rage has historically had to do with pedestrian crossings. I am occasionally so outraged at the sheer lack of effect one gets from pushing a crosswalk button that I've had to do the most extreme thing humanely possible regarding it: Write a short, sarcastic essay.

Well all this happened to me again today in my journey up the river on my way to work. I was getting really worked up as the crosswalk robot voice kept telling me to wait no matter how many hundreds of times I pushed the button. But then I had an epiphany:

Pedestrians are so low down in the traffic design order that the default scenario at any cross signal is that pedestrians get no turn at all. The button is merely there to tell the traffic signal that a pedestrian would actually like a turn, eventually, in the least urgent way, if it's not too much trouble. Just because I want it to mean something else, just because we should live in a world better than that, where people walking are treated like gods by the city planners, doesn't mean we do live in that world.

Which is why I like to pick up a nearby rock or brick and whack the crosswalk button repeatedly. I've got all the time in the world.


  1. I will admit that I'm not too bothered by pedestrian/push-button interactions. I know other people are. I was crossing the street at Carter and Como shortly after they installed some updates. When the "ok to walk" signal went on, it was accompanied by a very loud da-da-da-da signal. A man crossing at the same time said he hated it because it reminded him the noise of combat.

    What bugs me is when I'm driving, waiting for a green light. I watch the signals count down to 1...and then the signals stop and I continue to have the red light. Unfair!

    1. For all my above rage I too am more patient walking than in a car- how curious. The slower one goes the more time one has, eh?


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