How does a Pedestrian Push Button on Traffic Lights work?

Following the installation of new traffic lights by the Kampala Capital City Authority, under their second phase of the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructural Development Project, pedestrians can approach the lights with a provision for them to press a push button that sends signals to the controller to emit the green lights, allowing them to cross.

Unlike the old traffic lights whose green time is pre-set and fixed, the green time on the new ones comes on request by the pedestrian at the crossing junction, who presses it and then waits for it to flash for them to cross. If you don’t press the push button, the green light can’t show.

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The lights’ controllers are placed in small houses around the junctions, and work along sensors on top of the traffic lights that count the traffic volumes. The controller awards green time for the pedestrians depending on how heavy traffic is on different directions of the junction.

This green time usually takes seconds and one ought to cross immediately when it comes. Why? The system periodically shortens pedestrians’ crossing time to get cars moving especially during heavy traffic. This means that various junctions will have varying green times.

If at all the response delays, Be Patient. It pays!

When you approach the lights, Pressing the button will not cause WALK signal to appear immediately. The system will have to first complete its cycle and allow cars enough time to get through the junction, which could last from between five seconds to two minutes, depending on the signal settings and the traffic flow.

Most of these push buttons will never provide any feedback to the pedestrian that their input has been received, and one may easily think that nothing happens in between when in reality the signal has been sent to the signal controller.

So, if at all you find yourself waiting for so long after pushing the button, don’t take it personal or think that the lights are trying to play hide and seek with you. It could be that they are trying to balance the needs of drivers also negotiating the junction.

Image: Daily Monitor