Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Push button to cross the street

The New Yorker ran a fascinating article about elevators back in April that I devoured during a couple of bus rides to work. I learned reading the story that the button to close the doors is actually fake. The doors eventually close but not because you've pressed the button. That has led me to think that the traffic lights buttons to cross the street for pedestrians might also be a gimmick. The 'walk' sign eventually turns on, but did that have anything to do with me pressing the button repeatedly six or seven times? I'm not sure anymore.
La revista New Yorker publicó un fascinante artículo sobre ascensores el pasado mes de Abril que leí con mucho interés durante un par de trayectos en el bus. Leyendo el artículo aprendí que el botón de cerrar las puertas es de mentira. Las puertas siempre se cierran al final pero no porque lo hayas apretado. Esto me ha hecho pensar que los botones de los semáforos para cruzar la calle tal vez sean otra trampa. La señal verde para peatones también se acaba encendiendo, pero, ¿tiene eso algo que ver con las seis o siete veces que le hemos dado al dichoso botón? Yo no lo tengo nada claro.


  1. We were just talking about the traffic light button, and I did a little "research" (looking on the internet.) In some cities the buttons do work, in others, the buttons do NOT work, but are still on the light poles and are in the process of being phased out (NYC.) On a related topic, there is a control panel for the air/heat in the classroom I teach in. My adult students like to "adjust" the temperature to their liking, but the truth of the matter is, the panel doesn't work at all. But pushing the buttons makes everyone feel better.

  2. "pushing the buttons makes everyone feel better" ha ha ha... I love that!

    Same with traffic lights, everybody loves to push the buttons.

    I tried several times in some places in Bellevue and they work. It's easy to check them late evenings. The busiest roads are always red for pedestrians, even when there is no traffic. Then you press the button and magically turns green for you :-)

  3. that's exactly what I was thinking, pushing these buttons makes us feel good because it gives us a sense of control, even if it's not real.

    mariano, Bellevue is clearly a city where things work how they're supposed to, lucky you!