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Thursday · April 08 2004

Social Design Notes reports on crosswalk signage usability. New York City has switched over from the incandescent WALK/DONT WALK lamps to the modern LED orange hand/white man models. Some New Yorkers, like 8-year old Jacob, don't like the new signs because they make his eyes water from, like, a block away. This proves you can't please all the people all the time. Some folks like to bitch.

SDN discusses a third option, the countdown lamp, which is my favorite. In addition to the orange hand, the countdown lamp flashes the number of seconds you have to get your ass across the street, a useful data point. I've only seen these in Colorado, but the article notes San Francisco uses the countdown signs and they are gaining in popularity.

Local studies around the U.S. are finding that the countdown signals come at a price. While the countdown reduces the number of pedestrians who start running when the flashing DON’T WALK signal appears, the countdown seems to be interpreted to mean that it is OK to cross the street if there are enough seconds on the clock. Pedestrians are more likely to start crossing the street during the countdown than during the flashing DON’T WALK. This is contrary to the intent of the designers, and of the law.

If you can't figure out a crosswalk signal, RTFM.

What you had to say:
April 08 2004

I loved the countdown technique...San Fran does have it and it rocks...
especially considering the amounts of times you bust out into the intersection thinking you have the time to cross...makes me much more aware!

April 08 2004

Kris, I posted this with you in mind. I know how much you like the countdown.

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz