About twenty-five years ago, stoplights with crosswalks had two signals specifically for pedestrians. These signals were a red DONT WALK [sic] which displayed solid when the light was read, indicating that the pedestrian should not cross the street and a green WALK that indicated the pedestrian could enter the intersection and probably make it across before the light turned red and cross traffic ground the pedestrian to lunch meat. A third state, akin to the yellow light, involved the DONT WALK symbol flashing, which meant that the light was going to change soon and you probably shouldn’t enter the intersection.
This system, imperfect as though it was, lasted decades. However, some bureaucrat wanted to do something to improve it since people were still dying occasionally in the streets.
So in the 1980s, the conversion from the DONT WALK and WALK paradigm began its shift to the current iconography. The hand replaced DONT WALK and a person walking right to left replaced WALK. This new system would save untold children, the illiterate, and the non-English speaking people who couldn’t understand the DONT WALK and WALK on the signs and who couldn’t puzzle out that crossing with the red light was inherently bad and crossing with the green light was probably safe.
No, our governments enacted expensive changes which required replacement of all crosswalk lights and retraining the young, yet-unnamed Generation X to the new system. To protect the children, the illiterate, and the non-English speaking, you see.
I guess this system isn’t working, either, and that the new iconography doesn’t immediately, universally connect with people and tell them what to do. So now, to protect children, the illiterate, and the non-English speaking who couldn’t handle the old DONT WALK/WALK system–or perhaps adults who can read English but not symbols, the government has come up with this solution:
After 25 years in which, I assume, pedestrians have continued to occasionally die in crosswalks, the government has added an instruction manual for the new symbols which, apparently, dead pedestrians couldn’t understand. Now the children, illiterate, and non-English speakers get 21 English words explaining the symbols and what they mean. Because the children, illiterate, and non-English speakers couldn’t, apparently, understand 3 English words or 2 symbols without the combination thereof.
It makes me wonder what lesson the governments will learn about pedestrians even after this program does not completely eliminate pedestrian deaths. Perhaps that these instructions are not clear and they need more elaborate details? A manual for understanding the helpful signs at the crosswalks? The sky is the limit, since apparently common sense and budget never will be.