13 February 2013

Motorists Dismount

Motorists Dismount
Buttons that pedestrians or cyclists are forced to push in order for a computer program - programmed by a car-centric engineer - to grant them authorisation to cross a street in their city have to be among the most archaeic remnants of a century of city planning that caters only to the automobile.

And that was a long sentence. Sorry.

I wish for their immediate demise. The only thing goofier is the pedestrian flags in some American cities. Talk about ignoring the bull. Not to mention engineering instead of designing our cities.

One of the things I like most about cycling in Copenhagen is that I don't have to push any of these buttons. There have been a few but they tend to get removed and thank goodness for that.

Here's one from the archives:
The Power is Mine
(Although now I'll have to check if it's still there...) Still, they are a rarity here and I've only seen them at t-intersections.

So why not signage like the graphic up top? If we're going to level the playing field - which we should - after this centuria horribilis. Let this sign be posted in densely-populated urban centres, near schools and kindergartens and basically anywhere we're keen to reestablish liveable cities.

More wacky buttons from around the world:
Ljubljana Bicycle Life_5 DC Overcomplication Sao Paulo Streets 052
Ljubljana, Slovenia & Washington DC & Sao Paulo

Pedestrian Crossing Button Halifax Ignoring the Bull
Berlin & Halifax, Canada

Ottawa Application Form Lean on your city. #cyclechic #amsterdam #bike
Ottawa & Amsterdam


Eneko Astigarraga said...

Check this out:


Ryan Zamaria said...

I always thought Toronto's "point and walk" system was stupid...That flag thing tops it!

Vancouver put in "bike push buttons" at some intersections.



Some intersection in my city I'm forced to either go on the sidewalk to push a pedestrian button OR if clear, just proceed through a red light. Although many roads have been 'tweaked' and bicycles will set off most traffic lights now.

We have a few "Cyclists Dismount" signs at some trail crossings. Only people who actually dismount are out of towners on vacation.

erik said...

Chicago recently installed radar for the first time to detect bicycles at a stop light, as reported on Transportazine: http://transportazine.blogspot.com/2012/12/bicycle-radar-sensor-installation-on.html

The Urbanophile said...

In the US, a lot of suburban intersection don't leave enough time for pedestrians to cross unless they press the button. It's nuts. Where I live, some of these don't even work, so you have to run for your life to cross the street.

Aaron Allsop said...

Yeah I never understood some crosswalks. In my town you have to stop at all crosswalks when there is anyone near it because so many people were getting hit.

-Aaron, recently watched leadville bike race

Corey said...

American cyclists and pedestrians have often learned to ignore traffic signals. At best, our signals function only as guidelines for appropriate behavior. Adhering to them is not only inconvenient and unfair, it's often downright dangerous. That's why jaywalking and running reds (RLJ) is a norm in many American cities and is frequently tolerated by law enforcement officers.

With the last photo, suggesting that Danish infrastructure is better than that of the Dutch? ;-)

Neil said...

They're decent as far as transitional infrastructure goes. Meaning, there are many situations here in the wilderness where installing such a button has increased the pedestrian or cyclist's priority in the intersection, and those ones are good things.

The problem comes in when they are at intersections where there are usually cyclists or pedestrians waiting to cross, where a cyclist has to dismount in order to use the light, and at intersections where the response time is unreasonably long (I consistently ignore the signal at a nearby intersection because it can take up to 2 minutes to change the light).

Just because something is not ideal doesn't mean it's always and everywhere a bad thing.

crapbournemouthcyclist said...

We were recently informed that in the UK, pelican and toucan crossings (ones with buttons and lights) will delay turning red for traffic if the road sensors detect vehicles exceeding the speed limit.

So this actually rewards cars who break the law at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists.

The reason given is safety - not expecting speeding cars to have to brake heavily.

When I first heard this I couldn't quite believe it but reflecting on the Uk's car-centric 'road safety' methodology it fits perfectly.

Ignore the bull - keep out of it's way while it passes. You matter less.

SteveL said...

@mikael -some of the US roadside ones are because their sensors are set up for cars & don't detect bikes. hit the button and you know you've been detected, and you get just as much priority as a car.

If they are by the lane you can not only press the button, but rest with your hand on it. But it does place you in the wrong position for going straight on -more risk of right hooking.

Some areas (mountain view, CA) also paint vertical bike outlines in the centres of lanes -if you stop your bike perfectly aligned with this, the sensors pick yuo up

KruidigMeisje said...

in NL everybody has to push to get over the crossing. Cars do it all the time with their weight/presence. Cyclists get such a loop more and more often. But because the traffic is regulated by need this way, and not by rote (so no green lights for empty lanes), I do not mind it this way. Even though I have a low bike, so the buttons are not always convenient for me.

Mikael Colville-Andersen said...

If the buttons forced the lights to change instantly, that would be some progress. But most in the world don't.

Jeff said...


Of all the US states, Idaho has been moderately progressive to cyclists in terms of traffic laws. Which is a bit odd for how car centric and red it is.

It is to my knowledge the only state that doesn't require you to stop at a stop sign on a bicycle, but instead merely yield to it.

Snowy Leopard said...

Can I get this on a T-Shirt?

Pretty please?