I have a funny relationship with pedestrian crossing signals: sometimes I don’t want to push the button. Yes, I want to cross the street. No, I don’t want to be struck by a vehicle.
For much of my life, crossing safely with the light hasn’t been an option. See a busy street, dart across. Or: see an empty street, meander while the traffic is far, far away. Steady red hand for both. The flashing walk or “white man” (as my cousin calls it), nary to be found. Boston in particular boasts many twenty-second count-downs at four/five-lane, highway-speed boulevards. (Thanks, Boston.)
Then I moved to JP and met, exhibit A: my favorite walk signal.
It may not look like much, but this crossing sign at the Arborway not only responds with the most satisfying speed, it also has a comfortable space in the middle to wait if need be.
<tangent>I once heard a father tell his two young children “well, now you’ve screwed yourselves!” when they rushed the light and got stranded. He wins the award for the most inappropriate and darkly amusing thing said to kids trapped between lanes of speeding vehicles.</end tangent>
I readily admit that I’ve taken friends to visit this cross walk towards the green goodness of Arnold Arbs. It’s that great.
Exhibit B: the walk signal with which I have a more complicated relationship. Press the button and you usually have to wait. And then, embarrassingly, traffic on a very busy, very fast road is brought to a halt so that you, in all your importance, can saunter across for something like forty seconds. You could execute some fantastic cartwheels during that time.
I was very excited when the city installed this cross walk last year, because getting from one side to the other at Jamaica Pond was the pits. Now, though, when all those cars stop and wait for me, I am filled with guilt. Maybe it’s complexity of that portion of the Jamaicaway, or the fact that I’m often the only one crossing and, with my bike, this act takes probably five seconds. Not that I think the city should change it . . .
Two signals on the same road and a different relationship with each!