If you’re worried about touching the walk button at signalized pedestrian crossings, worry no more – at least in high-use areas.
This means pedestrians do not need to press the button when wanting to cross the road.
Council will continue to review locations with high pedestrian activity and will assess their suitability to receive automatic pedestrian signals.
A spokesman for the city said that the pushbuttons cannot be switched off automatically, but need to be programmed individually by engineers, which is why this is being rolled out neighborhood by neighborhood rather than citywide all at once.
These intervals vary from location to location, depending on the frequency of public transports and pedestrians.
Other cities have already begun automating pedestrian signals in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In Boston, Sydney, and Lausanne, cities are shifting all pedestrian crossing lights to automatic in order to slow the spread of the virus and protect its residents.
Preliminary studies have shown that coronavirus may remain viable up to 72 hours on stainless steel surfaces. While the wind and ultraviolet rays (on sunny days) may decrease that amount, doctors have recommended people avoid touching stainless steel surfaces outside.
In a pandemic, every touch counts. Beg buttons are a surface that we can eliminate from the list of potential vectors. Why wouldn’t we?