CHOICE membership

Does Pushing the Button Help?


I reckon this is valuable information that will probably not change our individual behaviour. We will do wishful pushing regardless of the where or when of our walking. That being written for CBDs, our suburban crosswalks do respond to the buttons.


More buttons in play are in the USA, and the placebo effect discussed.


The SMH initially reported on this. While Sydney-centric, credit where credit is due!


From the SMH article

Pedestrian council chairman Harold Scruby said the way Sydney prioritises car movements over people was at odds with international best practice.

I am aghast. How could it be with all of our regulations? :laughing:


… says it all really. ‘Pedestrian’ - the adjective - describes said council well :wink:


In Brisbane (non-CBD), if one doesn’t push the button at any time of day, one would have a long wait watching the traffic passing by.

The easy thing to do is a real life test…if one has some time. Don’t push and see if the green walker appears or doesn’t in a traffic signal cycle. If it doesn’t appear, then push to see if it does.

I wonder if this fall into one of the ‘first world problem’ lists?


Not if you couldn’t cross for a long while and decided you could not see a vehicle on either horizon and walked, and the jaywalking police were hiding behind the nearby latte sign. Ca-ching!


Not here, still waiting for the traffic lights to be installed.
Is that also a first world problem?


What if I employ a ‘turbo’ push and hit the button 20 times quickly? :laughing:


From my observations as a motorist in the Cairns region, the pedestrian crossings with push buttons at intersections with traffic lights require the pedestrian to press the button for the Walk sign to be activated when the traffic lights turn green.

Failure to do so will result in the Do Not Walk sign staying illuminated even when the traffic lights are green.

This is obviously to assist motorists turning left or right not being delayed when there are no pedestrians or only ones who are too lazy to press the button.

The traffic lights in the Cairns CBD now have an additional digital display under the Walk signs which counts down from 20 or so to 0 before the light starts flashing.

Of course this makes no difference to the multitude of tourists who deliberately flout the signs, do not even look, or are too bust with their phones, but that is what the horn is there for.


You might find yourself in one of these


Being an electric switch, only one push (providing it is pushed right the way in and the switch is not faulty) is all it takes to trigger the signal program to set and display pedestrian crossing on the next change of lights. It is amazing how many people push the button multiple times to start with and/or continuously pushing it thinking that something magical will happen.

Maybe they are readers of the children’s book, the 91 Storey Treehouse.


If there is any form of feedback to the button presser (eg. a small light as in the picture), and it is working, then it does help to re-assure the presser that something positive should happen. More often than not, this light is already on and pressing the button only has the placebo effect.

In Cairns the countdown display does definitely help alleviate impatience, although I would like to see more intelligence in the program controlling them. However in Manila, and undoubtedly in many other busy cities, there are countdown displays on all traffic lights which reduces frustration in drivers, and clutch wear in vehicles. For one of the most densely populated, and congested, cities in the world where the driving standards are terrible, it’s remarkable how calm the traffic is. We could learn a thing or two from the Filipinos.


First world problem, but this thread made me smile.
Personal Crossing Peeves.
People who don’t push the button while standing next to it.
People who push the button by kicking it (Bruce Lee style).
People who push the button frantically as if send morse code.
Maybe, as with many modern electronic devices, there are secret hacks and that pushing the button in a particular sequence will cause all of the traffic lights to reboot.
Now does anyone know if pushing the door close button in a lift has any effect…


Absolutely it helps…
Helps pass the time
Helps me stay semi sane
Helps confirm my hand-eye coordination before venturing into wheeled metal space
Helps stretch… when doing Bruce Lee style (thanks Andrew)
Helps show people around you that you’re in control of this (even though you’re not)
Helps people around you know that they do not have to take control of the button
and Turbo pushing? Well, back in the day, that was great Space Invaders training.


None what so ever if you try to use the lift with your building access pass outside your allocated work hours.
I suppose the disappointment at not being permitted to start work early is still an effect of the failure of any button to function.


The average pedestrian won’t wait longer than 30sec? What does that say about those peoples’ patience??

As for lifts, learnt when studying psych that putting mirrors next to the lifts make them arrive sooner (that’s the users’ perception anyway) & reduces button pushing. Mirrors inside the lift cars also improves the perceived efficiency.