The City of Syracuse Department of Public Works (DPW) reprogrammed crosswalk signal buttons this month, automating pedestrian crossings at signalized intersections throughout the City. The change, instituted as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, eliminates the need for pedestrians to touch the crossing buttons before being directed to safely pass through intersections. Over 900 buttons have been reprogrammed, allowing several hundred traffic signals to display the “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” directives using standard timing procedures.
All locations where signals have been modified will have temporary signage installed in the next week identifying the changeover. There are a select number of crossings that will still require using buttons due to external factors such as highway infrastructure, equipment limitations, and non-standard intersection layouts.
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, people will still be able to use Accessible Pedestrian Signal equipment for detectable wayfinding aid using sound and touch. Maps where buttons have been changed in each quadrant (Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, and Downtown) can be downloaded online. A citywide map listing the converted buttons is also available. This effort may produce slight changes in signal timings for motorists.
Pedestrian signal adjustment is a recent best-practice other cities have utilized according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. The strategy to decrease the touch frequency on widely used transportation surfaces has been incorporated in cities like San Jose, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Minneapolis, MN; Kansas City, MO; Hartford, CT; Chapel Hill, NC; Boise, ID; and Arlington, TX.