One way to save your life, and save ourselves all

My colleague, Hannah Peck, told me to imagine the reason that the pedestrian signals are not visible to people as they cross the street. It’s a traffic signal that’s ‘hidden’ from people crossing the…

One way to save your life, and save ourselves all

My colleague, Hannah Peck, told me to imagine the reason that the pedestrian signals are not visible to people as they cross the street. It’s a traffic signal that’s ‘hidden’ from people crossing the street.

Here’s what’s going on in all those little letters: seven stop signs, two signal arms, three stop light poles and one sidewalk-only pedestrian signal.

Think for a second about this. No one sees that pedestrian signal. This means, you can almost eliminate the risk that you will get hit by a pedestrian who doesn’t see that stop light.

If I suddenly signal, the pedestrian who is coming will stop. They can actually hear my signal. They can see I’m coming because they can see the lights. They can see I’m coming. They see the mark.

But they can’t see the stop sign, and they don’t know what I’m actually doing.

Without that pedestrian signal, the folks walking their dogs don’t have to put their hand on their ear to hear the signals. They can hear the signal because they can see it.

So what’s happening here? Why is this happening? Why is this risk under-exposed? It can’t be as simple as tandems of poor judgment. It’s about signals and signals. It’s about the humans responsible for the signals. It’s about who knows what. It’s about something that’s not.

If you see more people doing their right thing and fewer people doing their wrong thing, you’ll see fewer people doing their right thing and fewer people doing their wrong thing. So, the signal’s there, but the people need to see it. It doesn’t stay hidden. It gets out. We see it, and we can see the signals. As soon as we see the signals, we stop and wait for the pedestrians to stop. They do, in fact, stop. If you live in Berkeley, California, you see that.

So, why is the signal hidden? The whole idea of a pedestrian signal is to warn pedestrians that something important is coming. To let them know that, they shouldn’t cross the street until the signal tells them it’s safe to cross. The key is that we don’t “see” that signal.

In the world of signs and street markings, though, we see it every day. And we know it’s there. As soon as we see the signal, we understand it’s important. Once we understand that, then the signal can start to tell us what’s coming.

In transit and not-transit, though, we can’t see it. It’s invisible to us, and it is invisible to us. And to us, it’s still important.

It’s also how you get into town without thinking about it at all. Without the signal, there’s no stopping. There’s no waiting. There’s no worrying about it. Until it stops. When that happens, then everything changes.

Hannah Peck is a full-time KQED Public Media reporter. Follow her @HannahTimms or like her on Facebook.

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