Walk/don't walk

In an opinion piece over at the Times Union, Walkable Albany's Andrew Neidhardt urges the city of Albany to change its use of pedestrian signal "beg" buttons at busy intersections. "Albany's pedestrian signals should activate whenever the vehicle signals activate. The pedestrian signals should be reprogrammed to operate as if there was no button. The greatest pedestrian cities in the world do not force pedestrians to beg for a legal crossing at every corner and wait for several minutes. Albany should follow their lead and put pedestrians on an equal playing field with motorists."


There is also a common situation (at least in Troy) where the walk signal will be activated but cars turning right (or left, in Troy) will blow through the intersection/crosswalk/red light, emboldened.

In Troy, I can end up waiting through an entire walk signal before I am able to cross walk because of all the cars turning right (or left) and not yielding (or caring) about the pedestrian in the crosswalk with a walk signal.

Note: you can turn left on red from a one-way to a one-way, and there are a lot of one way to one-way streets in Troy. Biggest problem spot for me not being able to cross in spite of having a walk signal is crossing the north side of the intersection at State St. and Fourth Street. Those turning left in their cars will zip through their red light and the "Walk" signal to get on to Fourth. (It's usually easier to just let them all go, then wait for the traffic heading north on Fourth to go, then cross with a "Don't Walk" signal.)

Beg buttons are the worst. I was going to describe a specific intersection where I've crossed literally thousands of times in the last few years and have only received a walk signal a handful of times... but everyone can imagine the scenario without getting into specifics - mainly because these horrible signals are *everywhere* in Albany.

It seems like the better option might be to have the buttons actually hold traffic at these busier intersections. Even if the walk lights go on with the traffic light you still have to worry about someone not seeing you and making a turn.

If the it's more about the waiting, well people driving have to wait for a cycle all the time too. When I walk if I have the green light I have the right to cross and I do so even if the walk lights don't come on. And walk light or not I still keep an eye out for cars.

I walk and drive and drivers can also get stuck waiting to make a right or left turn because of pedestrian traffic too leaving only one car to get through sometimes. Maybe I'm missing something in his piece.

The best button is on Whitehall at Cardinal. The second you press the button the light for cars will turn yellow.

I’m fine with buttons as long as they prioritize pedestrians above cars.

Yes; these drive me nuts! In some cases they are purportedly added "for safety" in that they're stopping traffic in ALL directions, preventing hits due to turning vehicles. But most intersections in the city don't require that. I wonder if there would be the possibility, at intersections that currently do that, to have the pedestrian lights change automatically with the traffic lights but pressing the button would provide a "scramble" intersection that stops all traffic?

I'm both a driver and a pedestrian but I can't count the times I've wanted to start a "Pedestrians NOT crossing at the crosswalk" Instagram (but using my camera phone while driving would be unsafe, so I don't). I have seen pedestrians crossing in front of me, literally 50 feet (or less) from a crosswalk. Some scurrying while holding up their hand so I stop my car, some ambling along, but always, right NEAR a crosswalk.

Come on people, we can do better.

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