Here in the city of Sacramento, most signalized intersections have beg buttons, the button you press to get the pedestrian crossing. Some of these are on auto-recall, which is what it is called when the pedestrian crossing (the white walker symbol) comes on every cycle. Most of them are not; the pedestrian crossing will never change unless you press the button. A few of them won’t ever change because the beg button is broken. You would think that the city would label the buttons with their function: is it required, is it not required, does it only affect the disability audible signal? Who knows. The city can’t be bothered to tell people walking how it works.

This is a huge frustration for walkers ALL the time, but now it is more, it is a public health hazard. Is there corona virus on that button? Probably yes. Is the city cleaning the buttons? Certainly no. So the city is allowing and encouraging a public health hazard by requiring walkers to use the buttons in order to cross the street. This must stop now! The city must set all pedestrian crossings to auto-recall, at least until the end of the pandemic, and hopefully forever.

I have been going on two long walks a day, or sometimes a bike ride, since self-isolating (no, I’m not sick). The only thing I have to touch in the outside world, other than my door knob when exiting and my door knob when returning, is beg buttons. Of course I don’t touch them. I cross when it is safe; I don’t waste my time waiting to see if this is one of those required, or simply decorative buttons. Because I won’t touch the button, I have to assume that every signalized intersection is broken, not accessible to pedestrians, and I therefore have a right to cross during gaps in traffic, no matter what the pedestrian signal says.

Fix this, city. Now.

Corona virus? Your guess.

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  1. […] post on beg buttons: Don’t touch that button! Then, there are locations where pedestrian crossing is simply prohibited, for reasons having […]

  2. An update: After extensive discussions, the city agreed to change the five pedestrian signals around Land Park from actuated to recall, meaning the button does not need to be pressed. However, the city has so far refused to change the signs on these buttons to indicate that they are now on recall, so the walker has no way of knowing. The locations are Land Park Dr & the zoo, Land Park Drive and Sutterville Rd (south), Sutterville Rd (north) & Freeport, 14th & Freeport, and 13th & Freeport. No other changes to any pedestrian signals have been made.

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About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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