You see it all the time: A pedestrian waiting to cross a street will push the crosswalk button, wait, push it again and even a bunch of times as he/she tires of waiting.

Does that do any good? No.

“Pressing it more times doesn’t do anything more than pressing it just once,” said Robert Sprinkle, Santa Rosa’s traffic engineer.

You just have to wait for the traffic signal to reach the point in its operational cycle that it will flash the “walk” light, he said.

How quickly that “walk” signal will come on is based on programming tied to different factors at different intersections, Sprinkle said. Some traffic signals are coordinated with others down the street while others are more isolated and operate individually. And it depends on where the traffic light is in its timing cycle. The factors are so many and so complex that Sprinkle said he “could talk for hours about this.”

Regardless of the wait, Sprinkle said, the city factors in plenty of time for pedestrians to cross the street, taking into account how wide the road is.

In the meantime, just press the button and be patient.

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  1. Au Contraire

    It definitely DOES do some good. It makes the pedrestrian feel better when they hear the beep. Making the signal change faster isn’t the only benefit one can receive! ;-)

    October 15th, 2010 9:49 am

  2. Robert Thille

    I was crossing the street with a co-worker who made his living writing embedded software (similar to that used in traffic systems), and he said “never push the button more than once”. Quizzed about it, he said, “If you were the guy writing the software, what would you do every time the button was pushed after the first?” My answer? “Add a delay” Since then I only push the button once.

    October 15th, 2010 10:09 am

  3. Daniel

    A good reason to push the “walk” button just once: If you push every “walk” button you come to multiple times it might contribute towards you acquiring a painful repetitive motion injury like carpal tunnel, especially if you walk everywhere and push buttons all day long. Of coursd the extra walking you are doing is probably negating the damage you do to your tendons because of all the extra healthy exercise your whole body is receiving.

    October 15th, 2010 10:24 am

  4. Kevin

    There is a code that you can use to change the lights. Ive used it many times and it works!!!!

    October 15th, 2010 11:16 am


    RE PEDESTRIANS: Although they are not endangered, they are threatened.

    Please consider this:

    Pedestrians are exposed to sun, heat, cold, and rain, but vehicle [except bike] occupants are not.

    Pedestrians sometimes must make two or more crossing, but not vehicles. Vehicles may turn thru intersections, but not pedestrians.

    At locations where the city excludes pedestrians from using one leg of an intersection, pedestrians sometimes must cross three legs of traffic.

    Green arrows give exclusive use of the intersection to vehicles. When do pedestrians get exclusive use ? Even when pedestrians have a walk signal, vehicles are allowed to turn across their path.

    Vehicle green lights come on automatically, but not all walk signals come on automatically. Downtown at 4th and D streets the walk signals do not come on automatically .

    At Marlow / West College the walk signals do not come on automatically. Even when the walk signal button is pushed, after the vehicle green light is on, the walk signal will not come on even when there is plenty of time remaining on the vehicle green light for pedestrians to cross. The pedestrians must wait thru an entire cycle for a walk signal. Because this intersection serves a park and bus transfer center, which is across the road from the park, pedestrians ought be better accommodated here – in my opinion. The city does want to encourage bus use, does it not ?

    How about the city program its traffic signals to give priority to pedestrians ? How about, when a walk signal is push, traffic be stopped immediately and pedestrians given a walk signal ? Can the city do that ? I think it can. Will the city do it ?

    There are numerous discontinuities along the sidewalks within the city. All sidewalks within the city ought be made continuous, in my opinion. This is a matter of life or death, remember ?

    The city has gone way too far to accommodate the car, and given pedestrians short shrift, in my opinion.

    Yours for Santa Rosa pedestrians

    October 15th, 2010 11:24 am

  6. Ronald Breeze

    You can push the cross button once or 500 times at the Snyder Lane/Expressway northeast corner and hell will freeze over before the crossing sign appears. Whoever programmed that one needs to go back to school.

    October 15th, 2010 2:48 pm

  7. arch stanton

    “Does pushing that crosswalk button more than once do anything?”

    Yes. It makes you look like an Ignorante.

    October 15th, 2010 4:48 pm

  8. Joe

    My name is Joe, and I push buttons.

    October 15th, 2010 8:07 pm

  9. Greg

    What if I FEEL like pressing the button 500 times!? I doubt there’s any law against doing so. Until then, I will press the button as many times as a I can, as often as possible, JUST TO ANNOY YOU.

    October 16th, 2010 11:11 am

  10. doc holliday

    to whom it may concern, it doesnt matter how many times you push it. Also unless you have the correct pre emption code you cannot change the signals. Flashing your lights is the biggest myth out there

    October 16th, 2010 3:48 pm

  11. Zil

    Haha, pressing the button more than once makes me happier. It might not actually make the crosswalk light turn on faster, but it makes me happy, really happy! And it might just annoy the other people… ;)

    October 16th, 2010 5:33 pm

  12. Carlos Montalvan

    Both crossing buttoms at the corner of Praire Ave & 104th St in Inglewood 90304 have been broken for more than a month. People going west must rush using the green light allowed to vehicles, which is not enough for pedestrians. Caltrans or whoever is responsible please fix them.

    September 27th, 2011 5:39 pm

  13. Steros

    People who repeatedly push crosswalk button, do you count the cars at the intersection and push the button once for each car plus one thinking the light will think there is one pedestrian for each push and therefore change due to majority rules?

    October 18th, 2013 8:54 pm

  14. Ashley

    Is it true that every time you push a button to cross the street you’re giving the government 10 cents?

    March 21st, 2014 7:02 am

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