Agreed. For myself, when I cross the street, I make sure the traffic is in
agreement with what the signal is telling me. I've never run into an
incorrectly-calibrated signal yet, but I've often been concerned about it.
----- Original Message ----- From: "Buddy Brannan" <buddy@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2005 8:30 AM
Subject: [bct] Re: street crossings
Even when I lived in "the big city" (and it was, too--they don't get a lot bigger than Dallas. Austin before that.), I probably about nine times out of 10 would also wait a full cycle. It's good sense: you don't know how long you've had the light, and if it changes on you in the middle, well now, that could be a small problem. However, I've also crossed when the light had just changed and I happened to notice that a few feet before I reached the corner. Of course, sometimes you can fudge this a little when you know the intersection, but then again, sometimes when you do that, you end up in trouble. It's one of those calculated risk things.
As for audible signals: I definitely don't want them at *every* corner. While I think that generally, they're sort of a band-aid fix to a more pervasive, underlying problem (i.e. traffic patterns unfriendly to *all* pedestrians), I'm not under any delusion that traffic engineers will suddenly start taking all pedestrians' needs into account when designing traffic flow, nice as that might be. So, there are certainly instances where an audible signal would be helpful, and in those, they should be had (which, BTW, is the NFB official stance as well). However, I'd submit they should be of the modern variety, and not the loud cuckoo tweet tweet variety, and most of your standard plus-sign type intersections shouldn't need them, although I've noticed that they're at these kinds of intersections-- especially the older kind. (I think it's safe to say that the ones in Harrisburg, PA are excessive: they're at relatively easy intersections, and you can hear them through a closed car window.)
Anyhow, the more modern audible signals are pretty nice, and I have a lot fewer objections to them than the older ones most of us have seen and are used to. Newer audible signals have an audible tick that tells one where the pole is (very handy, and fairly inobtrusive); their volume adjustss automagically to the level of ambiant sound (i.e. they turn themselves down when there's less traffic and noise); and they seem clearer on which signal means to cross where (sometimes giving spoken feedback about which street has the light).
On the flip side, I have a friend in Burlington, VT who tried out their audible signals. The bad news is that the audible signal was not properly callibrated to the visual one, and so, being out of sync, put him in the street in the middle of a light change. Not a good situation. Naturally, I think we can agree that an audible signal is only useful if it's properly callibrated and maintained; unfortunately, I guess that this isn't always the case.
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