And while we’re on the topic of our spanking new beg buttons …
ABOUT THOSE PESKY PEDESTRIAN CROSSING BUTTONS …, by Rachel Quednau (Strong Towns)
If you’ve ever walked on a sidewalk, you’ve probably encountered the “beg button” at one point or another. That’s the button you press in order to get a pedestrian walk signal to light up on the other side of the road. As Alissa Walker writes in a recent Gizmodo article: “Those little buttons on walk signals have been nicknamed “beg buttons”—because walkers are pretty much begging to be able to cross.”
This is problematic for a number of reasons, but the biggest is the obvious prioritization of car movement over pedestrian movement. Do car drivers have to pull up to each intersection, lean out their window and push a button in order to get a green light? No, they just wait and the light appears. The Gizmodo article continues:
It’s annoying for walkers: have you ever tried to walk a few blocks, stopping to hit the button at every single intersection? Or hit the button just a few seconds too late and had to wait a whole additional cycle? But it also illustrates the backwardness of our street design: pedestrians, who are supposed to have the right-of-way, are required to press a button at an intersection in order to get a walk signal, which should happen automatically.
We know that walkability creates value in a community. It invites people out onto the streets, interacting with one another, visiting local businesses and participating in the livelihood of a place. So why do our cities, time and again, in so many different ways, continue to limit the most basic form of human movement and make it more and more challenging to walk?