No easy button

Don't Work

H_Boston discovered somebody in Cambridge got a little frustrated with a pedestrian-crossing button.

Copyright H_Boston. Posted in the Universal Hub pool on Flickr.



    Free tagging: 


    Anyone know where this is?

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    I _think_ it might be at Rt 16/ Mass Ave, looking towards Cambridge which makes it DCR property.
    If anyone can confirm this, I'll call it in to them, although they're not the best at keeping these things working. (and their call buttons are worse than most, often taking two full cycles of a light to trigger).

    You are correct about the

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    You are correct about the location - Mass Ave & Alewife Brook Parkway. I'm not sure if it works or not. By the time I got to the intersection there were people on the other side that had hit the button.


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    maybe someone is just trying to say that life is too short to spend it working.

    Non-working pedestrian crossing buttons are everywhere

    And it's not necessarily a malfunction, but a purposeful bit of design, like the "close door" button on some elevators. The automatic cycle will eventually get around you; the button is a placebo. It just gives you something to do, the illusion of control, while you're waiting.

    WBUR did a feature on this a while back, confirming my longstanding suspicion that the crosswalk buttons at Tremont and Clarendon / Waltham in the South End aren't functional: Too bad the map in this piece no longer maps the location of placebo beg buttons.


    This is maddening - if there's a "Walk" signal as part of the regular light cycle there should be no button (as at many intersections in Cambridge.) Otherwise, the button should be functional (and in actual working order - a button at at least one of the four corners at Harvard Ave & Cambridge St in Allston is usually busted, and that's an intersection I will not cross without a full 4-way stop to road traffic.)

    Fortunately this intersection

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    Fortunately this intersection *doesn't* have an all-way walk every cycle. You have to push the button if you want an all-way walk.

    Maybe it's time for me to put up more "Please don't push the button unless you need the extra crossing time" signs. It drives me *nuts* when someone pushes the button, and then crosses with the green light instead of waiting for the all-way walk. Then when the walk comes on, nobody uses it. So it's a total waste of time and gas that makes my bus commute even slower.

    Non-working 25 years

    The buttons at Mass Ave and Pleasant Street in Arlington center. 25 years ago lights were changed to ALWAYS (24x7) have walk times, yet the walk buttons and signs remained. Non-residents, especially Minuteman Path users still press the buttons though the action does not cause the WALK signal.

    I'm not sure there is a way to save money (omitting the buttons) and still comfort pedestrians.

    The intersection of Tremont and Boylston streets has had similar

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    "placebo" pedestrian buttons since the lights were last upgraded with countdown timers about five years ago or so. While the intersection has an exclusive "all-red" pedestrian phase that is supposed to kick in once every cycle, it's interesting to watch folks unfamiliar with the intersection when there's a malfunction that causes the ped phase to be skipped.

    Even when you have the ped light, there's still the matter of avoiding the many cyclists and Silver Li(n)e buses.


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    Obama should really hire a better design team for his campaign posters!

    Pope JPII, Pray for Us

    My least favorite is the sometimes-working signal at Granite Avenue and the Neponset Trail. You never know whether it will respond to the button.

    I've waited over five minutes myself and come up on pedestrians who say they've already been there for that long or longer. Other times, you push the button and it triggers a walk/red lights in a few seconds. Sometimes it seems to work on the northeast-bound side but not on the southwest-bound one.

    This has lots of dog walkers, parents with wee ones in strollers, elderly fitness types and cyclists. The four lanes of cars hustling to or from the Expressway make it pretty exciting to cross without a light when the buttons don't work.