Crosswalk Buttons, Voting Booths, and Other Illusions of Control

by | Apr 11, 2017 | Videos | 10 comments

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Did you know that only 9% of crosswalks buttons in New York City actually do anything? Or that a piece of US government legislation disabled all elevator “close door” buttons in 1990? But these buttons are still there, and we still push them, even when we know that they do nothing. But why? And what does this tell us about the other illusions of control that the social engineers have placed before us? Join James Corbett for today’s thought for the day as he takes you on a walk across the street

Pushing That Crosswalk Button May Make You Feel Better, but …

These buttons we push everyday don’t actually work — here’s why they’re still so common

Why the Crosswalk Buttons in Your City May Not Work

Ask CityLab: Do “WALK” Buttons Actually Do Anything?


  1. Here in the USSA about 50 miles outside of LALA land, the crosswalk buttons actually do work. When pressed, the only thing that happens is that it allocates more time for little old ladies to make it across the intersection.

  2. I have often imagined the office printer / photocopier would benefit from an ass-shaped reset button reinforced to withstand a violent volley of frustrated angst. Perhaps the voting booth could be similarly equipped.

  3. Nice, upbeat, and a smooth segue to the “voting machines” and the surrounding deceptions that people are in control via the system.

    Spring time! Look at the blossoms! And the air is still cool.

  4. While I was living in the capital, I used to know exactly how various crosswalks on my daily routes worked and were timed. Some buttons worked to extent that if you didn’t press it, you wouldn’t get the chance to cross the road.

    Sometimes I’d tell people, after seeing them pressing the button repeatedly, that that specific button does nothing. After saying that I’d get this look, meaning “why the hell would you even know that”. I know this look very well since I’ve been on the receiving end of it for many a occurence.

    I wouldn’t even deem miself as particularly receptive nor having an eye for details. Quite to the contrary, my vision is quite bad. But I did put stock into understanding how and why my surrounding worked. People just want to go about their day with least possible knowledge and understanding. Anyone challenging this status quo is not met with a friendly face.

  5. For almost a year as an animator at a New York studio (primarily commercials) I would recycle cans and bottles and even fish them out of the trash to put them in the proper bin. To my chagrin, I caught an intern mixing it all together to take downstairs – and he informed me that there was no recycling for the building (possibly Manhattan too, but I forgot – 20 years ago).

    One box to vote.
    Pages and pages for taxes.

    Why not pages to vote on policies not fallible egotistical people, and where the taxes should go?

    If voting were effective they’d make it illegal.

    • Trash
      I went on a college tour of a dump (a landfill) for my Environmental Sciences degree. Incredible operation. The guys who manage a landfill can make $250,000 a year. Most of the trash that fills a landfill is not household trash, but rather construction trash. There are many, many “myths” about trash which are perpetuated by the “green movement”. A large portion of “recycled waste” (that you see in communities) is subsidized. For the most part, the financial value of the “recycled waste” is not viable on its own merit…it takes extra funds to eliminate the costs associated with collecting, sorting, and transporting it — not all “recycled waste” (such as some electronics), but more than what the public is generally aware of.
      I think plasma energy would be a good way to manage trash and also give us clean energy. It is being done in some areas.

  6. I think these crosswalk buttons shouldn’t turn lights directly, but modify the cycle in hopes of maximizing traffic flow. Say you had two roads and one crosswalk. Without a functioning button you’d always get ‘direction 1’ – ‘direction 2’ – ‘pedestrians’. With the button, as long as there are no pedestrians (or at least none that know the button needs to be pressed) you could shorten the cycle.

  7. If you vote you legitimize a corrupt system which was set up to fail.
    I dream of the day when the talking heads will have to explain away voting turnouts of less than 1%.

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