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April 30, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: Pedestrian experiment

Dave Lawrence writes:

The image shows a sign in Cambridge Circus-- a very busy intersection in the middle of London. The sign reads, "Pedestrian Casualty Reduction Signal Timings Experiment." What does that mean? Is it safe for me to cross the street?


Why is it bent?! I wouldn't cross.

Posted by: Bradley Dean at April 30, 2004 01:28 AM

Sounds straightfoward to me. They're experimenting with the amount of time between the traffic light changes to see if they can reduce the number of pedestrians getting killed or injured at the intersection.

You should probably check both ways even if you have the "WALK" signal just to make sure the traffic is actually stopping.

The fact that the sign has been bent back is distinctly worrying though.

Posted by: Alden Bates at April 30, 2004 02:27 AM

Long compound nouns like this are inherently hard to understand, as the brain has to keep pushing words onto the stack until it reaches the terminal noun-part and can unwind to interpret the entire thing. It's a fair bet that most people read this two or three times before they actually figure out what it means.

See also "long term car park courtesy car pick-up point".

For some reason it also reminds me of the attempted Bayesian filtering counter-attack in which spam contains lots of random, unconnected dictionary words...

Posted by: DS at April 30, 2004 01:42 PM

Skewing the results?

Maybe people are more (less?) careful after trying to parse the odd sign.

Posted by: njkayaker at April 30, 2004 05:41 PM

My translation: We are dinking around with the timing of the crossing light, results may vary.

Posted by: Forest at May 11, 2004 12:44 AM

Re: the 'WALK' comment - one aspect of UK traffic lights is that they don't use words, they use icons - a green man walking for 'WALK', a red man standing for 'DON'T WALK'. Seems more logical.

Posted by: JOD at May 13, 2004 01:31 PM

The green and red man signs are in all Europe. That's just American ("very descriptive") way of saying to stop ("DON'T WALK"). I guess someone would sue traffic lights comitee if there were a fred man instead. They wouldn't be able to understand what does the red man mean.

Posted by: dusoft at May 13, 2004 08:04 PM

The green and red man signs are in whole Europe. That's just American ("very descriptive") way of saying to stop ("DON'T WALK"). I guess someone would sue traffic lights comitee if there were a red man instead. They wouldn't be able to understand what does the red man mean.

Posted by: dusoft at May 13, 2004 08:05 PM

If someone sued for having a red man instead of "Don't Walk", I would personally go over to that persons house and hit them repeatedly over the head with a baseball bat.

Posted by: ..... at June 13, 2004 10:12 AM

icons on walk/don't walk signs are getting a lot more common in the states these days..

Posted by: bhefele at June 25, 2004 06:51 PM

thats cause there are so many immigrants invading our country (not that i mind them, i just mind that they dont takie the time to learn our language, and insist on having everything here translated into thiers.

Posted by: Will at July 12, 2004 08:03 PM

Hi... I don't understand the entry about the immigrants - we've always had the little green and red men over here in Germany, even when there were hardly any citizens from foreign cultural backgrounds living here permanently.

By the way - "invading our country" ?!? Are you afraid of immigrants, Will? ;-)

Posted by: robbsen at August 6, 2004 06:22 PM

Our language? What language is our language Will? As far as I remember, we didn't have an official national language in this country. And, yes, I have noticed more and more icon-type walk signs in the US.

Posted by: Bill at August 11, 2004 04:19 AM

Yes, Red man green man invades United states

Posted by: Bryant at December 20, 2004 05:37 PM

I've never seen a red man on those signs, it's always a red HAND.

Posted by: Noldoaran at January 6, 2005 05:19 PM

Red HAND makes sense, red MAN does not. A red man could mean only sunburned people can cross the street.

Posted by: Brian at January 10, 2005 10:33 PM

Although Brian is making a joke, he's right in principle. A red man could be misunderstood ("is he walking or standing?") by someone that either could not understand the meaning of the colors, or could not see the colors. A hand (often a universal symbol for "stop") versus a figure walking is perhaps a little more intuitive for someone who might not understand the colors, or even the meaning of the symbols.

Posted by: Brian at March 18, 2005 03:44 PM

I like that everyone here sounds so educated and informed, because in general, you get the idea that most Americans are not.

(This is said in reference to Will's comment and his replies.)

Posted by: InkInSA at May 25, 2005 03:42 PM

Ok. How about the sign I have seen in NH, USA is a waving hand for go, and a stationary hand for stop. Even us Canadians understand that when we visit the USA. Don't remember if they were in color though....

Posted by: michel at May 26, 2005 12:38 AM

Odd. There is no way I would want to cross at that intersection.

Posted by: The Boy at June 11, 2005 10:34 AM

We are lacking in a standard set of international signs. Some countries like US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Bahammas uses the red HAND. While other countries use the red MAN. A Uniform set of signs would release the problem of people not understanding walk signals.

Posted by: Bryant at June 30, 2005 11:32 PM

Instead of a red hand or man, they should just have a picture of a guy under a car.

That sign is very unnerving.

Posted by: sandswipe at July 14, 2005 12:30 PM

How did this go from people comenting on a sign to people arguing about Walk/Don't Walk symbols? I personally think the sign, while its meaning may be clear to some people, would be confusing for most. The fact that it is bent backwards is also disturbing. I would not cross that street for anything.

Posted by: WHaTEvEr at November 18, 2005 05:27 PM

I got the impression that they are experimenting with the crosswalks safety controls. If I cross there I am being used as a guinea pig so they can see whether or not I get killed.

Posted by: Timm at December 5, 2005 06:18 AM

why do we even need walk/don't walk signs? are people honestly so stupid that they need a sign to tell them when a car is coming?

Posted by: Nini at June 10, 2006 10:23 PM

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