Push button for crosswalk warning device

The concept here makes sense: There are flashing yellow lights above the crosswalk and embedded in the road, and you activate them by hitting the button before you cross. In theory, this should make approaching drivers more likely to notice you.

But there’s just something amusing about the phrase, “Crosswalk warning device.”

Walk button with raised arrow.I recently took a walk through some streets that have only recently opened to traffic. One of the things that struck me was that the buttons for triggering the walk/don’t walk signs had a new design. Instead of a tiny recessed button, or a larger rounded button, they had a ~2″ flat button with a raised arrow.

My first thought was, why the extra arrow? It’s pointing in the same direction as the sign. And it means you have to press the button carefully instead of just whacking it with your hand. The answer hit me later in the walk. I was leaning on the button with my hand when the light changed, I and felt the button vibrating. Of course! It was for blind pedestrians!

The raised arrow makes it easier to hit the right button, rather than just hope that the buttons have been placed in standard orientation. And vibrating the button makes it clear not only that it’s safe to cross, but in which direction it’s safe to cross. That’s one thing I could never figure out about the chirping walk signs in San Diego. It tells you the light’s changed, but if there’s any indication as to which light is green, I’ve never noticed it.

OK, one of my pet peeves is people who refuse to walk 50 feet out of their way to a crosswalk, instead dashing across a busy street where cars are more likely to hit them (or swerve and hit other cars, buildings, etc.)

But the number of people who jaywalk from the courthouse to the Starbucks across the street just amazes me. Especially since the courthouse is at the corner. The point where people cross the street is close enough to the intersection that the left turn lane has already opened up.

I mean, talk about a triumph of laziness over self-preservation. Saving ten seconds vs. risking life and limb? And flagrantly violating traffic laws in front of the courthouse?

I just don’t get it.