Turns Out Bashing The Pedestrian Button Has Done Jack Shit Since 1994

Is there anything that sends you into an existential “who am I” spiral quite like finding out you’ve been living a lie? Even if said lie is the tiniest, most insignificant thing?

For example, I spent 18 years thinking you said “burgundy” like this – “buh-guhn-dy” not “burrr-gen-dy”.

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Now? Apparently for my entire pedestrian crossing-using life, I’ve been smacking that big silver button for LITERALLY NO REASON. Because, as I was just informed, the buttons were disabled in 1994. Yep – those lights are set to a system, and you pressing the button does literal jack-shit.

This knowledge has come via SMHwho did a deep-dive on pedestrian crossing buttons over the weekend. Originally I thought this was a stupid yarn, but it turns out it was bloody GENIUS.

Since 1994, at all intersections across the Sydney CBD, the “green men” get set to “automated pedestrian phases” that disable the button signals from 7am to 7pm on Monday to Thursday, and from 7am to 9pm on Friday.

Honestly, please tell me I wasn’t alone in not realising this. PLEASE. I BEG YOU.

The article also covered the nuances of this spicy little government-driven change that I had no idea about. Honestly, I feel like I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes, conspiracy-style.

On Saturday, there’s no point tapping the disc at busy intersections from 8.30am to 9pm. But on Sunday, button bashing is useful, and will affect how long it takes to legally cross the road.

All of this makes complete sense, and yet I hate it deeply in my soul.

All of the above info is, of course, for Sydney. So I did some very important research and found this article from news.com.au, which covers off other cities around Oz.

Queensland? You’re like us – timing-based lights during busy periods. WA? You guys have a normal government who aren’t sadistic control-freaks laughing at you smashing your hand into those pedestrian buttons – yours operate as normal.

NT, yours are weird – they’re on auto, but… pushing it does help?

“Pushing the button at the crossing will register a request with the signal management system, and will prioritise the pedestrian crossing,” a spokesman for the Department for Transport told news.com.au. 

VIC, you’re in the same boat as the NT, except it’s even more confusing.

“The timing of the activation of the green walk sign depends on the flow of vehicle traffic and the status of signalling in adjacent intersections,” VicRoads director of road operations Dean Zabrieszach said.

Same deal with the ACT. And Tassie? It’s kind of all over the place – some automated, some not. So you’re best to hit that button, babey!

Finally, SA folks – you’ve got a computerised system similar to Sydney, but again in some areas, button pushing will help.

This was all very confusing and I feel weird and hot and strange all of a sudden. I hate it a lot. I like to know everything and always be right, OK? Is that so much to ask?