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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-10-14, 06:32 PM   #1
Solid_Spoke
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Press the walk signal and wait eons...

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.
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Old 02-10-14, 08:52 PM   #2
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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.
That's how the crosswalks are where I live too. I agree it's frustrating, but it's also a very logical decision on the part of traffic engineers when there are several hundred (or more) people driving automobiles through a given intersection for each person who would like to travel through the same space on foot.
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Old 02-10-14, 09:03 PM   #3
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Just cross against the light.
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Old 02-10-14, 09:08 PM   #4
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4 minutes? Never happened..........If there's no one around I take it (heck there are people who jaywalk all the time here, just now i saw a lady cross a major street with a little girl at its midpoint DOH! And earlier some guy with a stroller takes a red really fast to reach a bus in time)

If you have one of those middle lanes for merging even better, just get in there and wait for the other side of traffic to give you space to cross
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Old 02-10-14, 09:22 PM   #5
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Suburban crosswalks are annoying, but I've seen worse things...

One street I used to cross frequently did have a crosswalk with a pedestrian signal, but they just assumed that nobody would be walking and decided to plant a garden of flowering plants all around the signal. In order to access the button, I had to climb through the flowerbed. I'm pretty sure that the button didn't work half the time.

I'm also frequently annoyed by the streets that will only change for cars. I discovered that it's possible to trigger the lights with a steel frame bicycle by placing it just so on top of the right spot, but more often than not, the right spot is hidden. Even more annoying (back to suburbia, now) are the gated apartment complexes that will only open for cars (or residents with a key card, for the pedestrian gates)...got stuck in one of them once
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Old 02-10-14, 09:44 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Solid_Spoke View Post
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.
I know of a couple of cross walks that have the problem. There's one by an entrance of a shopping mall that's horrendous and pressing the walk button takes 2-3 minutes! I've seen a number of people take huge risks trying to cross the highway. Your post reminded me to send an email to the mall about this light. Thanks.

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Old 02-10-14, 10:01 PM   #7
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Just cross against the light.
In some states that's a moving violation, a hefty fine and a black mark on your driver's license.
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Old 02-10-14, 10:12 PM   #8
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In some states that's a moving violation, a hefty fine and a black mark on your driver's license.
Don't be silly. It can't be a moving violation if you are walking. And, when my ma taught me to cross the street, she taught me to look both ways. So keep a sharp eye out for Johnny Law while you are looking both ways.
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Old 02-11-14, 12:05 AM   #9
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In some states that's a moving violation, a hefty fine and a black mark on your driver's license.
Not to mention dangerous. And "silly".
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Old 02-11-14, 01:47 AM   #10
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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.
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.
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Old 02-11-14, 03:32 AM   #11
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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.
You are very fortunate indeed, as you often tell us.
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Old 02-11-14, 03:50 AM   #12
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You are very fortunate indeed, as you often tell us.
The OP is the fortunate one. If the length of the wait at street lights his/her biggest worry (something so minor that angers him/her), he/she must have a truly blessed life ... he/she must never have experienced any sort of real difficulty or hardship.


Perspective ...
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Old 02-11-14, 04:04 AM   #13
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That's how the crosswalks are where I live too. I agree it's frustrating, but it's also a very logical decision on the part of traffic engineers when there are several hundred (or more) people driving automobiles through a given intersection for each person who would like to travel through the same space on foot.
I've talked to traffic engineers about this from time to time and they have never really provided useful answers as to why the wait. One told me they just used the "standard" timing, but he didn't know what that was.

If a light has just cycled through and cars are just starting to move again, I can understand a delay so traffic can clear. But if the light hasn't been triggered for some time then the delay is arbitrary as traffic is going to have to stop at some point (provided the button is working) to allow the pedestrian/cyclist to cross. So whether the lights change 5 seconds after pushing the button or 4 minutes after pushing the button in these one-off situations usually doesn't matter for traffic flows (context dependent of course). However, as others have noted long wait times promote jaywalking or crossing against the lights. At this point in the conversation the traffic engineers I've talked to are usually at a loss and just shrug their shoulders. I should say, however, I have met good engineers are aware of this problem and do try to minimise wait times for pedestrians, but some just don't care.

Writing to your councillors and complaining to city/municipal staff about it helps, as it at least puts it on their radar.
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Old 02-11-14, 04:32 AM   #14
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I've talked to traffic engineers about this from time to time and they have never really provided useful answers as to why the wait. One told me they just used the "standard" timing, but he didn't know what that was.

If a light has just cycled through and cars are just starting to move again, I can understand a delay so traffic can clear. But if the light hasn't been triggered for some time then the delay is arbitrary as traffic is going to have to stop at some point (provided the button is working) to allow the pedestrian/cyclist to cross. So whether the lights change 5 seconds after pushing the button or 4 minutes after pushing the button in these one-off situations usually doesn't matter for traffic flows (context dependent of course). However, as others have noted long wait times promote jaywalking or crossing against the lights. At this point in the conversation the traffic engineers I've talked to are usually at a loss and just shrug their shoulders. I should say, however, I have met good engineers are aware of this problem and do try to minimise wait times for pedestrians, but some just don't care.

Writing to your councillors and complaining to city/municipal staff about it helps, as it at least puts it on their radar.
It seems like the longest waits are at the complex intersections where they're trying to jam a lot of cars through with an acceptable kill ratio.

First you climb over a three foot wall of snow and ice to hit the walk button. If you haven't broken an ankle, you then wait for the right turners, the left turners and the ones going straight through. Then you wait for them all again on the cross street. The total wait can easily be more than three minutes. Then you get all of 14 seconds for the pedestrians to scurry across the seven-lane street.
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Old 02-11-14, 05:13 AM   #15
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It seems like the longest waits are at the complex intersections where they're trying to jam a lot of cars through with an acceptable kill ratio.

First you climb over a three foot wall of snow and ice to hit the walk button. If you haven't broken an ankle, you then wait for the right turners, the left turners and the ones going straight through. Then you wait for them all again on the cross street. The total wait can easily be more than three minutes. Then you get all of 14 seconds for the pedestrians to scurry across the seven-lane street.
I think this shows how car traffic is so often deemed to be more important than pedestrians, when it should be the other way around. I'd definitely lodge a complaint.
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Old 02-11-14, 05:15 AM   #16
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It seems like the longest waits are at the complex intersections where they're trying to jam a lot of cars through with an acceptable kill ratio.

First you climb over a three foot wall of snow and ice to hit the walk button. If you haven't broken an ankle, you then wait for the right turners, the left turners and the ones going straight through. Then you wait for them all again on the cross street. The total wait can easily be more than three minutes. Then you get all of 14 seconds for the pedestrians to scurry across the seven-lane street.
There are a few intersections in Tulsa that are freakin' insane. I've seen some that are divided with medians that pedestrians can use if they can't cross the entire intersection in one go- complete with a 'repeater' button to push for the next light cycle. Then there is the one at 71st & Memorial that just isn't safe for a pedestrian (and I found it dubious when I used to drive). N/S on Memorial has 2 dedicated left turn lanes, 3 through lanes, and a dedicated right turn lane. A sprinter might be able to make it in 15 seconds- provided they wait like 5 seconds for the red light runners to clear.
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Old 02-11-14, 05:43 AM   #17
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There are a few intersections in Tulsa that are freakin' insane. I've seen some that are divided with medians that pedestrians can use if they can't cross the entire intersection in one go- complete with a 'repeater' button to push for the next light cycle. Then there is the one at 71st & Memorial that just isn't safe for a pedestrian (and I found it dubious when I used to drive). N/S on Memorial has 2 dedicated left turn lanes, 3 through lanes, and a dedicated right turn lane. A sprinter might be able to make it in 15 seconds- provided they wait like 5 seconds for the red light runners to clear.
I have seen quite a few of those in my travels.... Newport News, VA, Cary, NC, Lancaster, PA....

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Old 02-11-14, 09:32 AM   #18
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We have some downtown intersections that definitely give pedestrians priority, with so-called scramble crossings. There are three phases: One for east-west vehicles and pedestrians to go, one for north-south vehicles and pedestrians to go, and one where all vehicles stop and pedestrians can cross in any direction, including diagonal.
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Old 02-11-14, 09:40 AM   #19
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I think this shows how car traffic is so often deemed to be more important than pedestrians, when it should be the other way around. I'd definitely lodge a complaint.
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.
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Old 02-11-14, 09:42 AM   #20
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In busier traffic areas, changing the timing on your light can cause a ripple affect of stopped/backed up traffic at other lights. There are gridlock simulators you can play with that illustrate this. It makes me wonder if some walk signals aren't actually wired, and are just there to make it feel like you're doing something.

In lower traffic areas (or low traffic times) they should be timed for a minute tops though, and the traffic engineer should have built in some sort of re-synching mechanism to get the light back into cycle with the other lights for high traffic times of day.
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Old 02-11-14, 09:54 AM   #21
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Saw a guy in down town Houston riding around a small park in front of our hotel over and over - He was there still riding after 45 min when my wife and I left the hotel - I said nice bike - You practicing for a Velodrome - He answered back... Nope - Its 37 red lights to the open road from here and I don't have the time....

Thats odd I thought... All you have to do is get on the highway...


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Old 02-11-14, 10:51 AM   #22
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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.
@cooker, the first time I saw all traffic stopped on Yonge and Dundas with pedestrians crossing diagonally I was amazed.
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Old 02-11-14, 11:21 AM   #23
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We have some downtown intersections that definitely give pedestrians priority, with so-called scramble crossings. There are three phases: One for east-west vehicles and pedestrians to go, one for north-south vehicles and pedestrians to go, and one where all vehicles stop and pedestrians can cross in any direction, including diagonal.
That's a wonderful thing. It would halve the wait time for pedestrians who wanted to cross both streets at an intersection. Waiting for two walk signals at a big intersection might take more than four minutes, a delay that would probably even irk Machka.

In case anybody thinks pedestrians are overly sensitive when we think that American traffic engineers favor car users, here are two excerpts from your Wikipedia link:

"It [scramble crossing] was first used in Canada and the United States in the late 1940s, though it has since fallen out of favour with traffic engineers in the United States, as it prioritises flow of pedestrians over flow of car traffic."

"Denver formerly used the pedestrian scramble system at nearly every intersection in the downtown business district. The practice was eliminated on 11 April 2011, in order to "balance" resources allotted to pedestrians, vehicles, and mass transit..."
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Old 02-11-14, 12:59 PM   #24
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It seems like the longest waits are at the complex intersections where they're trying to jam a lot of cars through with an acceptable kill ratio.

First you climb over a three foot wall of snow and ice to hit the walk button. If you haven't broken an ankle, you then wait for the right turners, the left turners and the ones going straight through. Then you wait for them all again on the cross street. The total wait can easily be more than three minutes. Then you get all of 14 seconds for the pedestrians to scurry across the seven-lane street.
I swear you are talking about my neighborhood, but then I see Lansing in your info....On the plus side, I don't get grief from people about using the bike lane since no one can see it buried under all the snow.
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Old 02-11-14, 01:07 PM   #25
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I remember scramble signals in Wisconsin back in the 60's-70's when I was a kid. Don't recall if it was Madison, Racine or Milwaukee. It could have been one of them or all of them, honestly don't remember. Most likely Racine.

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