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Suspicions Confirmed: Pressing That Yellow Pedestrian Button Won’t Help You Cross Any Quicker

Ever felt like you have spent way too much time pushing that yellow pedestrian button in vain?

Well, you may have been.

As highlighted in a new CBC story, a recent report by the New York Times revealed that crosswalk buttons in Manhattan were deactivated more than a decade ago, when the city brought in computer-controlled traffic signals.

Since then, the yellow buttons won’t help you cross the street any quicker.

And the same situation is sort of the case in Toronto.

At many of the city’s 2325 traffic signals – 30 per cent, to be exact – there is no point in pushing a button if you’re in a rush.

Image: CBC

At intersections like Don Mills and Overlea, pushing the yellow button won’t help the light turn green any faster – they run on automatic cycles.

What it will do is set off audible cues for the visually impaired. This means a chirping signal for safe east-west crossing and a cuckoo for north-south.

The good news for the perpetually late set is that the majority of Toronto’s intersections run in a “semi-actuated” mode. At smaller intersections, where a busy street meets a less busy street, pedestrians must still press the button if they want to cross, unless they want to wait longer than necessary for the light to change.

Image: Spacing

“You don’t need to hit it 10 times,” Linda Lee, a senior engineer with the city’s traffic management centre told CBC.

“[Push it] just once for it to take effect.” (Admit it, we are all guilty of being a little impatient from time to time). Lee said the average wait time at crosswalks is two minutes (even if it does feel like you’re waiting forever).

In general, remember that it is a particularly dangerous time for Toronto pedestrians. Be smart.

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