That Time I Cheated Death While Pushing The Crosswalk Button

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I travel to work every day on the sidewalk along East Henrietta Road, which is, at certain points, 6 lanes wide. It is the quintessential “stroad” in every sense, accommodating high volumes of fast moving traffic while putting pedestrian lives in jeopardy. It is the perfect example of design that begs drivers to forget that there is a community college nearby, as well as a major employment center to the south… both of which garner a surprising amount of foot and bicycle traffic along this stretch.

The most dangerous section of this road for pedestrians is the part where you are walking along this 6 lane highway and suddenly have to cross two intersections that include off/on-ramps from the I-390 expressway. As scary as this section typically is to traverse, I did something I have never done before today… I used the sidewalk on the other side of the road. The “scary” factor was about the same, until I came upon one of the most hilariously frightening pieces of pedestrian infrastructure I’ve ever seen…

Google Streetview

OK, ignore the man asking for money on the off-ramp and focus on the location of the crosswalk push button. Literally, in order for the “walk” sign to come on across the ramp, you have to pretty much stand in the ramp. Where a person must stand to activate this signal is flush with the road, where speeding cars exiting a busy expressway are turning left. No separation, no barrier, no thought about pedestrian safety. In fact, the almost laughable part of this design is that the button itself is protected, but the people pressing it are not, sending a clear message that the safety of the infrastructure is more important than the safety of the person using it.

This might seem like a small detail to some, but it is part of an epidemic of bad pedestrian design that further prioritizes speeding cars over the safety of people.