Crosswalks are an integral part of any city’s infrastructure. Cities are built around roads but made for heavy pedestrian traffic. They need a system that is efficient, fast, and safe for all of the residents. Most cities have the fast element down to a science. They ensure that the light changes enough to allow residents and cars to keep moving without waiting for each other for too long. In today’s world, crosswalks have reached their peak efficiency. The systems they use, including the timing and sensors, are about as complicated yet simple as they will get. Where crosswalks in some locations can improve, is in terms of the level of safety they uphold. How is it that crosswalks vary in safety? There are two major categories. Safety control systems for pedestrians and safety control systems for vehicles. On the vehicle side there are obviously the traffic lights, but aside from that, there are also signs and bright markings on the road. What I am interested in is the pedestrian side of things. There are three major forms of communication that inform the pedestrian of when or when not to cross the road. The first and most prominent one is a sign that lights up and changes symbols to show the pedestrian to either stop or walk. This image showcases a crosswalk in Belfast, Northern Ireland where the light up sign method can be seen. The second form is audio. In the US something that we hear quite often is the sound “wait”, which is often played before it is safe to cross or when a pedestrian presses the cross button. The last form is a physical difference in the road surface which lets pedestrians know when the pathway ends and the road starts. This usually comes in the form of a bumpy patch of raised sidewalk just before the end of the path. These three forms together cover 3 different senses which help make sure that any pedestrian, impaired or not, is able to proceed safely when crossing the road. Dublin has crosswalks that are like no other. They went out of their way to create a safer system for pedestrians by way of the sound format. They utilized a unique sound to ensure that all pedestrians are aware when it is the right time to cross. It is a space laser-like sounding beep followed by quickly repeating clicks. While in Dublin I was able to record this sound.
It is interesting because the initial sound is very recognizable and distinguishes itself very clearly from the rest of traffic noises. This is effective because pedestrians quickly know when it is safe to walk. This ensures safety and it makes sure that they do not miss their opportunity to cross. The second half of the sound is a series of rapid clicks. This is used to communicate the duration of time for which it is safe to cross. When the beeping starts you can walk and you need to get to the other side before the beeping stops. Simple and effective. I don’t know why more cities do not implement this feature. It seems to work very well and it seems like it would not be all that difficult to implement. I certainly think that it would be a worthwhile investment to ensure the safety of pedestrians around the world. After making the initial sound recording of the crosswalks I decided it would be a fun idea to try and make a beat out of this sound. Fair warning this was created by me playing on my laptop keyboard and I’m not very experienced in making beats so it does not sound very good. However, I did have a lot of fun with it and I think that shows. I hope you enjoy.