"For years, at thousands of New York City intersections, well-worn push buttons have offered harried walkers a rare promise of control over their pedestrian lives. The signs mounted above explained their purpose:Incidentally, as a contrast to the false sense of causality highlighted in this story, I should note that I just received word that Blogrolling.com has been bought out by a larger company, a mere three days after it received national prominence upon being linked to from my weblog. Who says one cannot change the world from the comfort of one's RV?
To Cross Street
Wait for Walk Signal
Millions of dutiful city residents and tourists have pushed them over the years, thinking it would help speed them in their journeys. Many trusting souls might have believed they actually worked. Others, more cynical, might have suspected they were broken but pushed anyway, out of habit, or in the off chance they might bring a walk sign more quickly.
As it turns out, [as usual], the cynics were right.
The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on, according to city Department of Transportation officials. More than 2,500 of the 3,250 walk buttons that still exist function essentially as mechanical placebos, city figures show. Any benefit from them is only imagined."
Friday, February 27, 2004
causality bites, continued
From today's NYT: