|Know when to |
|and when to
Questions are frequently asked about pedestrian signals which were installed to improve pedestrian safety.
Why does it display "Don’t Walk" before I’ve completed crossing the street?
The flashing "Don’t Walk" or a flashing upraised hand is a warning to people who have not yet entered the intersection that it’s too late to safely cross the street before the traffic signal changes allowing cars to proceed. Signals are timed to allow people who have already started walking at a reasonable pace to safely cross the street.
Why are the words "Walk" and "Don’t Walk" being replaced by symbols?
Transportation engineers world-wide are moving toward the use of symbol signs in place of word signs because They are easier for people to comprehend in a shorter amount of time. Easily recognized symbols also accommodate people who can’t read English.
In the case of pedestrian signals, both "word" and "symbol" displays are currently in use. Here’s what they mean:
- "Walk" or walking pedestrian symbol means you may begin crossing.
- A flashing or steady "Don’t Walk" or an upraised hand symbol means it’s too late to begin crossing. Don’t enter the street but finish crossing if you have already started.
Why are pedestrian signals available at some intersections and not at others?
Pedestrian signals are installed for two main reasons: high volumes of foot traffic at an intersection, or the signals directing motorists don’t meet the needs of the pedestrians.
For example, some intersections are laid out at odd angles, and traffic signals can’t be seen by pedestrians. In other cases, turning and merging lanes make intersections so complex that special provisions must be made for pedestrians.
Shouldn’t pedestrian signals be available at every intersection?
Wouldn’t that make things safer?
If existing traffic signals meet the needs of people on foot – the signals are easy to see and provide plenty of time to cross safely – there is no need for pedestrian signals. Pedestrian signals won’t improve safety in such cases, and are costly to purchase, install and operate. However, it is always the policy of the City to install pedestrian signals at all new traffic signals where pedestrians are permitted to cross the street.
Is it really necessary for me to push a button to activate the pedestrian signal? Can’t I just wait for the light to change?
Buttons are available to pedestrians, because the traffic signal is timed for cars, not for people on foot. If you don’t activate the pedestrian signal by pushing the button, the traffic light may not allow you enough time to safely cross the street. You only need to push the button once for it to be activated.
Can I count on a safe crossing if I carefully follow the pedestrian signals?
The signals assign your rights in the intersection, however, it is important to be cautious when crossing busy intersections. The following suggestions are offered in the interest of safety:
- Cross intersections defensively.
- When crossing the street, regardless of the availability of signals, cross as quickly as possible. Minimize your time in the roadway
Always watch for turning vehicles. You have the right to be there, but that doesn’t protect you from the carelessness of some motorists.
Other Traffic Safety Information brochures available:
If you have any questions, requests or suggestions concerning traffic control, call the Traffic Engineering Division (714) 765-5183