Streetfilms: Tap Foot, Lights Blink, Cross Street

Along Seattle’s historic waterfront I happened upon a unique
pedestrian-activated crosswalk that blinks as people cross. Yes, I have
seen over a dozen lighted ped signals before in myriad cities, but all
required the user to press a button to manually begin the cycle. So, you
ask, how is this one different?

Well check this out: As you enter the crosswalk, make sure to step on
the yellow rectangle on the sidewalk. This activates the lights that
line the crosswalk. Drivers stop and it should be safe to begin your
adventure. You’ll feel a bit like an airplane coming in for a landing.
Frankly, it’s very empowering and a lot of fun!

Reason dictates that A) there must be a sensor contained within the
yellow pad, or B) there’s a helpful gremlin who lives underneath and
throws a switch for pedestrians. Regardless, anyone else seen one like

  • From a practical point of view, I think about a driver who gets used to these things, and does not notice pedestrians crossing in other legal places.

    Looking at the larger picture, this is just a further demarcation of space on the streets. In a negative direction. A crosswalk helps to preserve 95% of the street for cars.

    A few years ago in Berkeley, pedestrians were offered flags to waive around whilst they crossed a busy street. Perhaps we can say that this blinking light gimmick is version 2.0. Don’t forget that when cars were first introduced someone had to walk in front of them, waiving a flag. The need for this has been tempered by the evolution of a street into a pedestrian-exclusion zone, where children have to memorize “look both ways before crossing” as if crossing the street was the only action allowed for pedestrians. Children fear the middle of the street.

    We raise our children to cling for dear life onto the sides of one of our greatest inventions.

  • The crosswalk on the Polk Street side of City Hall is electric eye activated.

    This is the crosswalk where Gavin Newsom used his “Evil Kirk” Tantalus Field (Mirror, Mirror, second season, TOS) to zap Susan Leal as she was trying to cross a few years back:

    Also, it is time for speed tables to be used to demarcate crosswalks near schools or other dangerous areas.


  • The corner of Grand Ave and Park View Terrace in Oakland, CA used to have a “stand on yellow area for walk signal” sign. The actuation didn’t actually work and the sign was removed a couple of years ago.

  • a

    There are a bunch along San Pablo in south Berkeley. They’re pretty useful, since that road is so damn big it’s hard to notice someone walking across it. However I think a better solution would be to reduce the average speed on San Pablo. When it takes lighting up the entire road to get someone to slow down where people are walking, something is wrong.

  • Also, I thought at first read that this article had to do with former Idaho Senator Larry Craig.


  • False sense of security – A pedestrian crossing Oakland’s Broadway between 27th and 28th Streets was killed soon after the city installed the so-called “Santa Rosa lights.” They have been removed and replaced with a signal.



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Streetsblog was thrilled to hear about the quiet unveiling of San Francisco’s first raised crosswalk on a through city street, at Steiner and Hermann, across from Duboce Park. For a safe-streets advocate, raised crosswalks represent a clean break from the auto-über alles perspective that has so dominated our streets. By keeping the crosswalk at the level […]