The picture shows a standard beg button at a crosswalk.
One seldom really knows if these things actually work or are necessary to make the signal change.
The yellow advisory plate pictographic is the city’s obscure way of telling you that pushing the button is mandatory, in this case at least, to get a green walk light.
But is it really?
Looking up, way way up Jerome, there is another arm and on it a black box, with a small red light:
With a bit of practice, I discovered that it is radar, or a motion detector. If you stand in the right place on the sidewalk at the end of the crosswalk a tiny red light comes on the detector, and the light sequence changes to give you a walk light. (This discovery process caused a number of light change sequences on Preston, but hey, that’s traffic calming too).
Curiously, this is installed only the south crosswalk of the intersection, and not on the north side crossing, or the crossing George St W segment.
While I like that some engineer somewhere cared enough to give me an automatic beg button, it is also frustrating, since we don’t know it is there, and will push the button too (or maybe it is there because most people don’t realize begging for a walk light
is was mandatory here).
There are simply so many signs, so many variations on crossing protocol, no one really knows what to do. I hate pushing buttons if they are not necessary. And even more hate it when I arrive a second too late and the beg button wont work til the next full light cycle.
Lest you think you have it figured out, they now hook up the crosswalks on each side of the intersection independently, so if you arrive on the west side of an intersection and beg to cross, say, south, and in the meantime cross over to the east side of the street since you have a walk light that way and you intend to go in that direction once you cross the street, you may never get a ped light on the east side southbound crossing because the lights are hooked up independently.
If you are waiting a such a corner, you might see a walk light appear for the other side of your street, and think your light will come when a turn signal phase ends, or something, but you will wait in vain. Your light will never change.
Unless they put in radar too.
And just to keep you really mentally alert, the city now puts in beg buttons that only work at certain times of day. So you automatically get a walk light sometimes, which you might get used to, and thus trained, not push the button, only to discover that this particular time of day pushing the beg button is mandatory and you just missed the whole light cycle.
Only at an intersection with a long long light cycle, of course.
We should be so grateful to traffic engineers for keeping our minds agile and alert.