Automate them already!



Why is it we so often automatically defer all common sense to the automobile? Case in point, the crosswalk signal. Why is it that we as pedestrians, wheelchair riders, joggers, cyclists, and many others must seek, find, and then push a button to activate a crosswalk signal? Why is it that if we do not time our arrival perfectly, we have to stand and wait for the whole intersection to cycle through before we can cross the street? Why can’t these things just be automated?

It seems to me that it would cost less to have a preset automated crosswalk system rather than having to install separate buttons on poles or on freestanding units. Plus, it would have the added benefit of subtly teaching drivers to expect a crosswalk signal at all intersections with traffic signals and therefore be on the lookout for those of us who prefer not to live in a tin can. Another benefit is the automated crossing does not rely on mechanical buttons that sometimes do not work – leaving one to play a modern version of street crossing dodgem.

I have no problem with mid-block crosswalks having a push button to activate them – that only makes practical sense. But, the traditional signalized intersection should always have an automatic crosswalk signal that is preset to activate when the traffic signals change, no matter whether it’s in downtown, midtown, the burbs, the exurbs or a small town. Am I wrong or unreasonable here? Just curious what everyone else thinks.

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