Finding the Pedestrian Button


At signalized intersections, pedestrians need to determine if there is a pedestrian button to push and if so, where it is.  Since pedestrian buttons are usually placed at random sites in many jurisdictions throughout the United States, this can be a challenge for blind pedestrians at unfamiliar intersections, unless the button has a locator tone.  To find the pedestrian button, blind pedestrians can use a systematic searching pattern, such as the following:

        Starting at the corner, walk along one side of the sidewalk (the side where the button is more likely to be located) while moving the cane in a wide arc, reaching far beyond the sidewalk as well as reaching across the sidewalk, looking for poles that might carry the button.

        After walking beyond what seems a reasonable distance to find the button, walk along the other side of the sidewalk back to the corner, scanning with the cane as before.

        If the button has not been found before returning to the corner, walk around the corner and continue along the sidewalk while scanning with the cane until having reached a reasonable distance, then return to the corner while scanning on the other side of the sidewalk


This procedure will usually enable people to find the button if it is not too far from where it is expected. However some buttons are placed unreasonably far from the crosswalk, or are located behind bushes or guardrails, so far from where they are expected that they cannot be found even when using a systematic scanning procedure.

NOTE: Many actuated intersections provide no pushbuttons for pedestrians to signal the computer to provide them with pedestrian timing sufficient to cross, and some have pushbuttons on only one side of the cross street. If no pushbutton is found for crossing a main street on one corner of an actuated signal, the pedestrian might cross the side street to look for a button there. If no button is found or available, the pedestrian should be aware that when the vehicular traffic from the side street has the green light to cross the main street, there may not be sufficient time for pedestrians to cross. It would be beneficial to contact the traffic engineer and advocate for the installation of pedestrian buttons to cross (see Blind Pedestrian Killed; Intersection Design Contributing Cause).


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