Cars don’t have to beg to get the go signal, so why do people?

That’s what Andrew Neidhardt would like to know.

“All of the pedestrian signals are just off all the time unless you press a button. So oftentimes when you press it, you have to wait sometimes two or three minutes to get across if you have to get across more than one way at an intersection,” Neidhardt said.

What You Need To Know

  • The Ban the Beg Button initiative would incorporate walk signals into traffic patterns

  • Crosswalk buttons would still remain in place

  • The change is aimed at cutting down on wait times and pedestrian accidents

But not everyone is willing to wait like Andrew. Most just jaywalk, avoiding traffic to cross intersections and avoid wait times.

“When people are faced with unrealistic wait times like that, they start to rationalize dangerous behavior, which is not what we want,” Neidhardt said.

One of the busiest intersections where pedestrians experience long wait times is the intersection of Madison Avenue and Lark Street. Even crossing just part of the four-way intersection, you encounter one of the most common safety issues.

“Now we are faced with the turning traffic here. Now we’ve only made it to the island,” Neidhardt points out as cars continue to drive despite the pedestrian right of way.

Wait times of five minutes or more are common when crossing from one corner of the intersection to the opposite corner.

“I’ve got to walk 10 blocks to get my kid to school; that’s 40 minutes of wasted time for what?” Neidhardt said. “It really adds up.”

That’s why Neidhardt has brought the issue to someone who he thinks can make a change – Albany Common Councilor Gabriella Romero.

“The next step is putting together a local law, or an ordinance that would be binding on the city. It would affect all the city’s infrastructure and new development going forward,” Romero said.

The campaign, which has been titled “Ban the Beg Button,” is already in motion. Romero is working with the council and other local leaders on the resolution.

But the pedestrian buttons won’t be going away.

“That’s something we want to keep. What we are trying to change is pushing the button to allow for a pedestrian signal,” Romero said. “We want the pedestrian signal to be automatic and be prioritized, instead of requesting the ability to cross the street.”

“That should be the starting point of the conversation,” Neidhardt said. “I’m not asking for the world here. I’m asking for a walk signal.”