Thoughts on Crosswalks


I was thinking about traffic lights and crosswalks, and I came up with some ways they could be improved:
  1. If there is a crosswalk, the light for it should always come on (without pressing a button) unless there is a good reason why not. A possible good reason would be that the light only changes if you press the button, like the light north of the Broad Street bridge used to. As is, people sometimes cross anyway because they do want to wait for another complete light cycle. This goes double for T-junctions where there is no traffic light on the far side, such as the south end of Albert Street bridge.
  2. In the winter, yellow lights should be longer (5 seconds?) because it takes longer to stop. A simple form would just to program in a time of year. A fancier one would be to add a thermometer and apply the longer yellow if the temperature is below freezing.
  3. If there is a crosswalk with a countdown, the countdown should end when the light turns yellow. This seems obvious, but I have seen them run out more than 20 seconds earlier. If this is absolutely unworkable for some reason, they could write the extra time on the poles. As is, people start compensating, which leads them getting caught in the middle of the street when they get the intersections mixed up. Here, that slows down traffic. In some other places, they could get hit.
There are probably good reasons why these wouldn't work, but I don't know what they are.

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