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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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