An Evaluation of Illuminated Pedestrian Push Buttons in Windsor, Ontario

Source: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

At many intersections, pedestrians must push buttons to activate the Walk phase. However, they often do not know whether the button has been pressed and whether it is functional. If the Walk phase does not appear
soon after the button has been pressed, they may believe that the button does not work and start crossing early, while the steady Don't Walk is still being displayed. When a pedestrian presses an illuminated push button, a light near the button turns on, indicating that the Walk phase has been activated and will appear. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effects of illuminated push buttons on pedestrian behavior.

In general, illuminated push buttons did not have a statistically significant effect on how often the pedestrian phases were activated, how many people pushed the button, how many people complied with the Walk phase, or such pedestrian behaviors as running, aborted crossings, and hesitation before crossing. Only 17 and 13 percent of pedestrians pushed the button in the "before" and "after" periods, respectively. In both the before and after periods, someone pushed the button in 32 percent of signal cycles with pedestrians. The majority of pedestrians (67.8 percent with, and 72.3 percent without illuminated push buttons) who arrived when parallel traffic had the red and who pushed the button complied with the Walk phase.

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