Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pedestrian buttons

You know those buttons on intersections that pedestrians are supposed to press to get a chance to cross the intersection? Back where I grew up on Long Island, none of them, not one, did anything at all. I even timed it with the stopwatch that was part of every digital watch back then and confirmed it.

Now, depending on where you're from, you might be saying "well, duh", since apparently in most of the country this is the case. One wonders why these buttons are so ubiquitous when most people know better than to use them. Did they used to work and stopped? Can't be that simple: back on Long Island I saw new installations after new construction where they didn't work from the day they went in. Are they there in case of some future activation, that still hasn't happened after decades?

But here in central Vermont, at least, the buttons actually work. One periodically sees tourists being astonished by that, particularly during leaf-peeper season (which is now winding down). I remember one visitor to the area who was astounded, and told me that she likes to stop in Vermont on the way to other places just to press the button and see it work.

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