Shake harder, boy
Today’s installment of Shake Harder, Boy is dedicated to the stupid Walk Button. You know, the button on the corner that you press to compel the walk signal to light up. The button you sort of impulsively press because there’s nothing better to do while you’re waiting for the light to change. The button that’s undoubtedly crawling with all manner of bacteria, germs, pathogens, viruses, protists, nematodes, trichina worms, assorted flagellates, and grimy elements. That one.
The plain and honest truth of the matter is that the concept of the walk button is so ludicrously dumb that anyone that isn’t a child just assumes that it’s a placebo device. A button, that makes the signals work? That anyone can press? Really? Think about it this way: while you’re walking down the street on any given day, how many actual functional buttons do you come across? Do you come across any? Good! There’s a reason we don’t put buttons that are actually connected to consequential circuitry out where any Tom, Dick, and Harry can press them. Odds are, any Tom, Dick, or Harry is the kind of idiot you wouldn’t trust with the buttons on his own shirt!
So when a normal human comes across the walk button, can you blame her for just standing there patiently waiting for the light to change? Has anyone actually witnessed proof that the walk button actually does anything? In 25 years, I’ve never been foiled by the walk button. With that body of experience backing me up, I made a decision I’ve made thousands of times before: when I came to the intersection of North Washington and Thacher streets, I just stood there, and patiently waited for the light to change.
It’s not a terribly complicated intersection, but North Washington does lead to a bridge, and there’s a left-only light going in one direction, so there’s some stuff going on. So I waited. As I rolled up, the left-only traffic was just wrapping up. So then the traffic on North Washington started moving (this is the traffic that’s perpendicular to my route, so I had no choice but to wait). All the while, the red hand on the other side of the street is steadily shining at me. Then the left-only traffic started moving again. Now, there was a guy on the corner with me, and a girl on the other corner, so a certain amount of mob non-moving mentality was at play. The red hand is still shining. Then . . .
The North Washington traffic started moving again! The walk sign never came on! Because no one pressed the walk button! Seriously!
Now, on a rural two lane dirt path, in the dead of night, in a sparsely populated county, where there are rarely any pedestrians, I would understand having a system where walk signals didn’t turn on unless there was someone there to press a button. Because who wants to be stuck at a red light on an invariably haunted rural county road for no reason? But this is downtown Boston! There’s always going to be people crossing the street!
And why is the burden of button-pushing on the pedestrian? The people in cars don’t have to press anything. I’m not an idiot; I’m not advocating some wacky system of button pushery on the part of motorists. All I’m saying is, the regime of button pushery should be brought down for everyone!
And really, the walk button isn’t affecting the actual traffic lights. (That’s not based on any real knowledge; I just have to assume that people pressing buttons on the sidewalk aren’t affecting the length of traffic lights. I need to believe that, precious reader. I need to.) And it’s not like if the walk signal isn’t on, that the don’t walk signal isn’t on either. There’s always a light on! What’s the benefit of not just automatically putting the walk signal on when it’s safe to walk? Why are we putting this onerous responsibility on the shoulders of pedestrians?
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 10:37 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.