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-   -   Press the walk signal and wait eons... (http://www.bikeforums.net/living-car-free/933683-press-walk-signal-wait-eons.html)

cooker 02-11-14 02:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Machka (Post 16485737)
I don't think I've ever had a 4 minute wait ... or a 3 minute wait ... or even a 2 minute wait, although I suppose that's possible.

Having to wait for the light to change has never bothered me, and I've never called the city to complain.

Waiting is life in the modern world. We all spend much of our lives waiting. A wait of a couple minutes at the lights is nothing compared to many of the other things I've had to wait for.

And if that's your biggest worry in life ... you've got it really, really good. Take a moment while you wait at the next set of lights to thank the Powers That Be that your life is so wonderful.

I think we all like to complain about minor annoyances some time. Waiting 4 minutes for a light during a commute to work would certainly be annoying. I'm not a morning person, and I'm always cutting it close on my way to work. Plus, if it's a warm day, I have to severely discipline myself not to rush and build up a sweat, as that ends up delaying me more since I then have to cool off before I can start work.

I suppose a 4 minute delay could have three outcomes. It could make me late, it could make me rush, or it could give me a chance to cool off. However, often you're stuck waiting in hot sunlight, so the cooing off doesn't happen.

chewybrian 02-11-14 04:39 PM

I'd gladly wait the 4 minutes if the car traffic would actually give me my right of way when it's my turn. The no-look right turn really gets my blood boiling.

no1mad 02-11-14 05:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16486333)
I think a lot of signal timing patterns require traffic to clear on both streets before turning on the walk signal. That means pedestrians have to wait twice as long as people in cars. That does seem unfair.

If the activating button is blocked off by snow, the pedestrians will only have to wait until the snow melts before crossing the street. But if the pedestrian is blind and can't find the button, the waiting time might approach infinity. :eek:

There is technology that addresses this, but it appears to be implemented at a glacial pace. There are two types I've encountered in Tulsa*.

-The walk signals are linked to the traffic lights, so there is no button required to activate the signal. The signals incorporate audible tones that correspond with either red or green lights. The tones also help locate the crosswalks.

-The other kind I've noticed is probably viewed as an improved/next generation of the first. This system does use push buttons to activate the crosswalk. Each button is equipped with a speaker that emits a chirping tone (echo-location). Once the desired button is pressed, then the tones are replaced by vocal commands. It repeats "wait" every few seconds until the light changes and then the command is "walk". It reverts back to "wait" as the visual countdown starts to flash. Then it goes back to the chirps until someone else comes along and starts the whole process over again.

*I use Tulsa as my example because I've lived in/near my entire life.

cooker 02-11-14 06:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by no1mad (Post 16487830)
There is technology that addresses this, but it appears to be implemented at a glacial pace. There are two types I've encountered in Tulsa*.

-The walk signals are linked to the traffic lights, so there is no button required to activate the signal. The signals incorporate audible tones that correspond with either red or green lights. The tones also help locate the crosswalks.

-The other kind I've noticed is probably viewed as an improved/next generation of the first. This system does use push buttons to activate the crosswalk. Each button is equipped with a speaker that emits a chirping tone (echo-location). Once the desired button is pressed, then the tones are replaced by vocal commands. It repeats "wait" every few seconds until the light changes and then the command is "walk". It reverts back to "wait" as the visual countdown starts to flash. Then it goes back to the chirps until someone else comes along and starts the whole process over again.

*I use Tulsa as my example because I've lived in/near my entire life.

You're talking about audible crossing signal for visually impaired pedestrians. Roody was talking about ordinary pedestrian activated controls, and how they won't be triggered, if the pedestrian can't find the button, for example if they are blind, or the button is buried in a snowbank.

no1mad 02-11-14 06:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cooker (Post 16488062)
You're talking about audible crossing signal for visually impaired pedestrians. Roody was talking about ordinary pedestrian activated controls, and how they won't be triggered, if the pedestrian can't find the button, for example if they are blind, or the button is buried in a snowbank.

I realize that. I was merely stating that the ordinary signals can be/have been replaced by the audible ones- I kinda have a vested interest in the technology (from an end user perspective).

If the signal button is blocked by snow... I'm thinking maybe use a trekking pole? Can be used to probe for surface irregularities while walking and then extend your reach to access the button. If the button is covered by the snow, then I'd be real tempted to jaywalk mid-block where there are only 2 directions of traffic to check instead of 4.

wahoonc 02-11-14 08:16 PM

I will have to see if I can find the website on pedestrian infrastructure fails. I saw one just outside of Harrisburg, PA the other night. They have a pole with the push buttons mounted on them, crosswalks leading to the curb cut apron, the rough pad for tactile, and the whole thing was encased in a 3 sided concrete retaining wall. No sidewalks on that corner, but there were side walks on the other 3 corners... go figure.

Aaron :)

ro-monster 02-11-14 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jared. (Post 16486582)
Um, hitting the button for a walk signal doesn't change the timing of the light, in a lot of cases it simply activates the crosswalk signal for pedestrians. It would be a logistical nightmare for a lot of medium/large cities if the crosswalk signal changed the timing of the lights.

There are a number of intersections in my city (population about 100,000, and part of a large metropolitan area) where the walk signal most certainly does change the timing of the light cycle. For example, there's an intersection on my commute where, in the evenings, the green light is so short that it's impossible for me to get to the other side on my bike before it turns red again. But if there happens to be a pedestrian who pushes the button, the green light stays on long enough for me to cross the intersection easily, and remains on for some time afterward.

Roody 02-12-14 03:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ro-monster (Post 16488766)
There are a number of intersections in my city (population about 100,000, and part of a large metropolitan area) where the walk signal most certainly does change the timing of the light cycle. For example, there's an intersection on my commute where, in the evenings, the green light is so short that it's impossible for me to get to the other side on my bike before it turns red again. But if there happens to be a pedestrian who pushes the button, the green light stays on long enough for me to cross the intersection easily, and remains on for some time afterward.

There might be a coil buried under the pavement to actuate the signal for bikes and cars, as the button actuates it for pedestrians. Your job is to figure out where the coil is and how to actuate it with your low mass bicycle.

wahoonc 02-12-14 03:19 PM

Found a couple... it was on James Kunstler's website, though that isn't the only place I have seen them. The second one is almost exactly like the one I saw in Harrisburg, PA except the one in H'burg had walk lights and buttons.

Aaron :)

http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore_201306.jpg

http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore_201111a.JPG

wahoonc 02-12-14 03:25 PM

Along the same lines are a couple of articles that were on the BBC Magazine.

One dealing with how pedestrians became outlaws and the other actually has to do with pressing the buttons on walk signals.

Aaron :)

Solid_Spoke 02-12-14 08:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rebel1916 (Post 16485314)
Just cross against the light.

This is what I normally do both as a pedestrian and a cyclist. This particular intersection, which is a daily event if I ever need to leave the house, makes crossing against the light impossible because there is no clear line of sight. The T intersection has a sudden hill that obscures oncoming traffic...where cars 45-60 MPH appear from nowhere...and so out of self preservation one is forced to wait.

Dahon.Steve 02-12-14 09:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wahoonc (Post 16490732)
Along the same lines are a couple of articles that were on the BBC Magazine.

One dealing with how pedestrians became outlaws and the other actually has to do with pressing the buttons on walk signals.

Aaron :)

Interesting.

In the UK, the buttons that trigger the walk signals only function at night. I tihink that is the case in many cities in the U.S. It's understood that during the day, the pedestrian will simply wait until there's a break in traffic since the motorist can see them. Therefore, the traffic button does not need to function. However, at night since the pedestrian is invisible, the button needs to work.

Dave Cutter 02-12-14 09:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Solid_Spoke (Post 16484835)
...... Every time I press the signal I get angry because of the long wait. Do you?

No. I had some anger issues many years ago... but I deal with those. Do you really think the wait time is the root of your anger?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Solid_Spoke (Post 16484835)
Would it do any good to organize hundreds of people to call and demand they change the frequency?

I am sure it would. City planners are servants of the people. They want what the people want. However.... if you think 4 minutes for light to change is aggravating... just wait till you spend YEARS trying to reduce waiting time.

Maybe.... finding a more rural environment to live in might be a better solution. Although I live in a city now... I grew up in a small town. I sometimes think about how small towns can be more comforting and convenient.

kgoings 02-12-14 10:20 PM

Wow step down from the cross.

I am sure they are making the wait time that long to annoy you specifically. I am sure it doesn't have anything to do with making sure ALL traffic, vehicular and pedestrian from getting jammed up.

Roody 02-13-14 01:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve (Post 16491626)
Interesting.

In the UK, the buttons that trigger the walk signals only function at night. I tihink that is the case in many cities in the U.S. It's understood that during the day, the pedestrian will simply wait until there's a break in traffic since the motorist can see them. Therefore, the traffic button does not need to function. However, at night since the pedestrian is invisible, the button needs to work.


I think this is a misunderstanding, or at least poorly explained. The walk button always works, but it works differently at different times of day. In FREE mode, the button will actuate the signal immediately. In COORD mode, the button will delay actuation until the proper point in the cycle is reached. This could be two minutes after the button is pushed.

From Wikipedia:

"There are three general ways for a traffic signal to operate, FREE, COORD, and FLASH operation. In FREE operation, the signal is running based on its own demand and timing parameters based on the information provided by its detectors. It is not operating under any background cycle length. In COORD operation, short for coordination, the signal is running a background cycle length. Non-major street movements are usually still actuated, and the controller will rest on the major street until the background cycle length is fulfilled. The final mode is FLASH operation in which all vehicle signal heads continuously display a flashing red, or the main street shows flashing yellow while others show flashing red. Pedestrian heads are dark.


"When the volume of vehicles at an intersection no longer warrants the signal to be active, the signal can switch to FLASH mode. When volume picks up again the signal switches back into either FREE or COORD operation. For example, the daily operation of a signal may involve it being in FLASH mode early in the morning, COORD during the day, FREE in the evening, and back to FLASH late at night."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_timing

ro-monster 02-13-14 01:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16489045)
There might be a coil buried under the pavement to actuate the signal for bikes and cars, as the button actuates it for pedestrians. Your job is to figure out where the coil is and how to actuate it with your low mass bicycle.

This particular intersection seems to be timed rather than activated by a sensor. I never have a problem getting the light to turn green; it just doesn't stay green for very long.

We do have a number of intersections with special bicycle loops for the signals. They're smaller than the ones for cars, and positioned toward the right side of the road or in the bike lane. And they are marked with a little stencil of a bike on the pavement. They're very cute.

Roody 02-13-14 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kgoings (Post 16491726)
Wow step down from the cross.

I am sure they are making the wait time that long to annoy you specifically. I am sure it doesn't have anything to do with making sure ALL traffic, vehicular and pedestrian from getting jammed up.

Four minutes does seem like a very long time to wait for a mechanical response. If you walked to work, and had four or five long waits along the route, this is a significant waste of time. (A daily delay of eight minutes on each one-way commute adds up to 66 hours a year!)

I assume your last sentence is sarcasm. Ha ha. Nobody was saying that the delays are a personal insult. But the simple truth is that people don't like to wait more than a couple minutes. By their own standards, traffic engineers are supposed to keep delays to less than two minutes. Longer delays should be fixed because they cause people (drivers, cyclists or pedestrians) to give up and run the light.

If I had a long delay on a frequently traveled route, I would time it several days with a good stopwatch. If the average wait time was more than two minutes, I would send an e-mail to the traffic engineer and ask them to fix it.

Roody 02-13-14 01:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ro-monster (Post 16491968)
This particular intersection seems to be timed rather than activated by a sensor. I never have a problem getting the light to turn green; it just doesn't stay green for very long.

We do have a number of intersections with special bicycle loops for the signals. They're smaller than the ones for cars, and positioned toward the right side of the road or in the bike lane. And they are marked with a little stencil of a bike on the pavement. They're very cute.

This sounds like an unplanned malfunction. I would let the traffic engineers know what is happening. If they have good professional standards, they will definitely want to fix this dangerous situation.

wahoonc 02-13-14 05:50 AM

I quite often time traffic lights and walk signal crossing times... Longest I have ever timed is just over 4 minutes at peak. It is in Fayetteville, NC, but it is a complicated 5 way intersection, FWIW no walk signals there either. I was working in Lancaster, PA and timed what seemed to be an excessively long wait for a walk signal. It ran 2.5 minutes between cycles, interested to note that the walk signals only function when you push the button, otherwise they will not cycle, but the traffic lights do cycle. I could see this intersection from my motel room so was able to observe it for a fair bit of time. The intersection appears to be a combination of timed and demand. It is at the top of a pretty decent grade, on side serves the motel and a couple of restaurants, the other is a decent sized shopping center. The main road is US 30 with massive amounts of truck and car traffic.

Here is a link the sweeping right turns are a problem, especially the one in the lower left corner of the picture, motorists come cruising up the hill at 45-50 mph and the sight distances are limited.

Aaron:)

B. Carfree 02-13-14 10:51 PM

Intersections receive grades based on the peak-hour wait times of motorists; pedestrians do not count. If motorists wait more than 85 seconds, then the intersection gets a grade of F. This prioritization of motorists over pedestrians is simply another form of subsidizing car use (assuming time=$, or some such thing). Not surprisingly, when an activity is subsidized, it can easily come to dominate the market. To add insult to injury, supporters of fossil-foolish transportation then rationalize such special treatment as a reasonable accommodation of the dominant road user.

This total disregard of pedestrians can also be seen in the requirements for adding a traffic signal to an intersection. Until there are a certain number of motor vehicles entering the intersection from both directions, traffic engineering guidelines call for no signal. It doesn't matter if there are more pedestrians than cars at peak hours, only the cars count.

loky1179 02-14-14 09:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Solid_Spoke (Post 16484835)
Suburbia is the worst. What kind of world do we live in where a pedestrian has to wait two, three, four minutes after pressing the walk signal before they can cross? Walking is the purest form of movement and should not be hindred because traffic signals prioritize automobiles. Every time I press the signal I get angry because of the long wait. Do you? Have you ever called the city and complained? Would it do any good to organize hundreds of people to call and demand they change the frequency? No pedestrian or cyclist should have to wait longer than 45 seconds after pressing the walk button.

This gets my blood boiling as well! My worst intersection is the last one on my commute home. I have to cross a seven lane suburban STROAD . The street I'm on is a two laner. Pushing the walk buttton, (more appropriately called "beg" buttons http://www.streets.mn/2012/02/13/a-t...f-beg-buttons/) does not make the light change any faster.

This light also takes about four minutes. Note this is at 6:30 PM, well after rush hour has died down. Typically, I see no cars coming in either direction, but you don't dare jump the light, because traffic visibility is blocked by a hill about a 1/4 mile away, and traffic typically is going near 60mph (on a 45mph road of course).

This light goes through a full cycle, regardless of traffic. This is what really pushes me over the edge - on the final part of the cycle, stroad traffic crossing from the left gets a "left turn green arrow" - even if there are no cars waiting in the left turn lane. Even that I could handle . . . but what pushes me over the edge is that on this last phase, left turn arrow, the stroad pedestrian crossing still gets a walk signal! Which means that the left turn arrow is not just a quick cycle, it lasts about 45 seconds.

Then, when I finally get the green to cross the seven lane stroad - I get no walk signal (unless I've pushed the beg button). In fact, the green light for the two laner is shorter than than the left turn signal for the stroad was.

Did I mention that this signal is one block from my son's elementary school? Kids that live two blocks from the school, who have to cross this STROAD, have to take the bus. It is simply recognized by everyone that the infrastructure we have in place is inherently dangerous for pedestrians.

loky1179 02-14-14 09:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chewybrian (Post 16487766)
I'd gladly wait the 4 minutes if the car traffic would actually give me my right of way when it's my turn. The no-look right turn really gets my blood boiling.

This is what I respond with whenever someone complains to me about bikers "blowing" through stoplights. I see drivers "blow" through stoplights multiple times on virtually every ride I do. Somehow, bikers crossing against a red light at 10 MPH is "blowing" a light, but a driver making a right turn on red after slowing to 10mph is no big deal.

loky1179 02-14-14 10:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Machka (Post 16485737)
. . .

And if that's your biggest worry in life ... you've got it really, really good. . . .

I suppose there are bigger worries in life, like Global Warming. But we all saw what happened to the last thread that went in that direction! :roflmao2:

Roody 02-14-14 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by loky1179 (Post 16495532)
I suppose there are bigger worries in life, like Global Warming. But we all saw what happened to the last thread that went in that direction! :roflmao2:

On BF, mentioning global warming is like talking about Hitler on the other Internet forums. Das ist verboten! :D

loky1179 02-14-14 12:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16495904)
On BF, mentioning global warming is like talking about Hitler on the other Internet forums. Das ist verboten! :D

Now you've done it Roody. This thread will be shut down in less time than it takes to get a walk signal after pressing the button.

Ok, so maybe we're still good for quite a while.


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