Exercise in Futility: Pressing the Button to Cross the Street

An article in the Dallas News find the devil is in the details: namely, the difficulty in maintaining the little things that make a multi-modal street work—like the little push buttons (some call them "beg buttons") at crosswalks.

"You push the pedestrian walk button, the light changes, you cross the street," writes Danielle Grobmeier. "But around downtown Dallas, hitting that button does nothing."

That's because "[nearly] all of the 200 traffic signals operate on a pre-timed system — meaning a signal changes over the same time every time, regardless of congestion."

The problem, however, is that even those pre-timed systems don't work, and the city has little of idea of what is, or is not, working. To make the case for how this current state of crosswalk technology is impacting the lived experience of the city's downtown, Grobmeier shares the story of an intersection adjacent to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science—one of the city's flashiest cultural institutions—where tourists and visitors regularly jaywalk on the busy street rather than suffer the protracted wait time for the light to change.

Full Story: Pushing buttons gets pedestrians nowhere in downtown Dallas


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