The pedestrian crossings are ubiquitous across the globe, presumably, every country has it on their roads. However, it varies on how they operate based on the country’s income condition.
In low-income countries, a pedestrian crossing will not have an electronic signal system in most roads dedicated for foot-travellers to cross the road. Many times people have to solely rely on zebra crossings.
In contrast, developed nations like the US or Australia, have a signalling system for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road. The pedestrian presses a button on the road side for a signal to cross, apparently a friendly and safe mode to walk across roads.
But can these signals be annoying sometimes? In my opinion, yes.
Electronic pedestrian crossing signals are found in various road junctions. At places where there is a heavy vehicular load, this signal system is a boon. But when they are placed on road crossings where there is not much traffic load it becomes quite agonising for those who rely chiefly on walking or cycling as a mode to commute.
Such signals seem quite inappropriate to me and probably undermines the campaign made by most nations these days to encourage people to use fewer cars. If the waiting time is about a minute in multiple seemingly unnecessary electronically signalled pedestrian crossings the pleasure of walking or cycling dampens and becomes a bitter experience in hot summer days.
It is probably the safest to wrap every pedestrian crossing with an electronic signal system as long as there is enough fund to do that. However, I feel some survey is needed to know if people are really following those signals. It is also important to know if people are liking to keep pressing the pedestrian crossing button frequently in road crossings which have very low traffic pressure?
I observed two shortcuts some people use. While some will cross notwithstanding the red light, others will just move some distance away from the signal and then cross. So if everyone is not using it a rethinking of the existing system is probably needed.
What can be done? Obviously, a planned survey of how pedestrian and cyclists perceive the issue will probably suggest an accurate answer.
In my opinion, instead of flooding the city with electronic road signals non-electronic pedestrian crossings signs (zebra crossing type) are more helpful at a road crossing with low traffic pressure.
Hope the respective authorities will start considering if they are overusing electronic pedestrian crossing signals and how people on the relatively empty crossings feel about it.