Streetfilms: Tap Foot, Lights Blink, Cross Street

Along Seattle’s historic waterfront I happened upon a unique
pedestrian-activated crosswalk that blinks as people cross. Yes, I have
seen over a dozen lighted ped signals before in myriad cities, but all
required the user to press a button to manually begin the cycle. So, you
ask, how is this one different?

Well check this out: As you enter the crosswalk, make sure to step on
the yellow rectangle on the sidewalk. This activates the lights that
line the crosswalk. Drivers stop and it should be safe to begin your
adventure. You’ll feel a bit like an airplane coming in for a landing.
Frankly, it’s very empowering and a lot of fun!

Reason dictates that A) there must be a sensor contained within the
yellow pad, or B) there’s a helpful gremlin who lives underneath and
throws a switch for pedestrians. Regardless, anyone else seen one like

  • MarkB

    Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa has a lighted crosswalk. That installation has a bollard on the sidewalk edge at each of the four corners of the crosswalk. The bollards contain motion sensors aimed at each other along the sidewalk edge. A pedestrian stepping off the sidewalk will break the beam (so to speak) and initiate the light cycle. There’s no need for the pedestrian to push a button or step on a particular square of pavement.

  • angle

    On one hand, it’s great to see smart ideas being implemented to keep pedestrians safe. On the other, it’s disheartening to think that it requires an elaborate system of flashing lights and embedded sensors just to allow pedestrians to cross a city street safely. What happens when increasingly angry, careless and sleep-deprived motorists start to ignore the high-tech crosswalk? Wouldn’t it be more effective in the long run to calm traffic on these roads?

    (This is known as “preaching to the choir.”)

  • El Monte has something similar on Garvey Avenue. They use CCTV cameras (the same one used for tripping traffic signals) that detect motion, which activates the pedestrian lights.

    Incidentally, traffic calming doesn’t do much in the middle of the night. I’ve driven past speed humps at 65 mph before… it’s mildly uncomfortable for the driver but that’s about it. The best way to slow down traffic is simply to increase traffic density.


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