Pedestrian Signal Operation
A variety of methods are used to operate pedestrian crossings at intersections. A brief description of each is included below:
When to Cross
Fixed Time Pedestrian Crossings
There is no button for pedestrians to push. Walk/don't walk signals will be triggered every cycle (or signal change) of the traffic light. These are used in high volume pedestrian areas such as downtown Saint Paul or other commercial streets with a higher level of pedestrian activity, relatively stable traffic volumes and closely spaced signals.
Pedestrian Activated Crossings
A button is provided at a crosswalk for the pedestrian to push and thus activite the walk/don't walk signals at the intersection. The pedestrian signals will only be activated when the button is pushed. This system is used where pedestrian activity is low and/or accomodating a pedestrian crossing may change the usual amount of time provided for roadway traffic to move through the intersection. It is the most efficient way to activate pedestrian signals. The green light should not be used for pedestrian crossing as it may not provide enough time for safe crossing. If you do not push the button you may not get adequate time to cross the intersection. Watch a video about pushing the button.
Count Down Timers
Count Down Timers (CDT) tell you exactly how much time you have left to safely cross an intersection. Instead of a flashing don't walk signal indicating the traffic light is about to change, a number will appear indicating the number of seconds left to safely reach the opposite side of the street. This number will count down second by second until it reaches 0 seconds and the Don't Walk command appears. You should not start crossing after the hand starts flashing and the count down begins.
Audible Pedestrian Signals
Audible Pedestrian Signals (APS) are now being installed at signalized intersections. In addition to seeing walk/don't walk signals you will now hear audible commands telling you when it is safe to cross an intersection. Audible Pedestrian Signals are especially useful for persons with visual disabilities.
Making Eye Contact for Safety
Eye contact between pedestrians and drivers is an essential componenet of pedestrian safety. Watch a video regarding making eye contact.