Where are the green men?

A number of traffic lights used for crossing the “little” streets in central Melbourne don’t have green/red men.

William/Little Lonsdale Sts

Some do, however, particularly along Swanston Street where there are heavy pedestrian flows and — I suspect — more people likely to be just following everyone else like sheep, and not looking for cars before they cross the road.

Swanston/Little Bourke Sts

I had been assuming that if there was no green/red man, you could cross at any time if no cars were coming. Not so, says the VicRoads web site:

Fines apply to pedestrians who commit the following offences:

cross against an amber or red traffic light

Of course, it’s uncertain what is likely to happen if caught crossing on a red in a spot where you can’t physically see the light in question.

Queen/Little Lonsdale Sts

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11 Replies to “Where are the green men?”

  1. You know, for maybe 20 years I’ve noticed the lack-of-green-men in Melbourne’s small streets. But your blog is the first time I’ve read (or heard) anyone mention it.
    Does anyone at City of Melb know why??

  2. It’s damn annoying for us with poor vision to know when it’s safe to cross properly without the clicking-noises of the green/red man.

  3. Walk and Don’t Walk symbols are fairly recent in the little streets in Swanston Street, I think only installed when Swanston Walk was constructed.

  4. Alex: Budget reasons? I doubt it. Even in just the City of Melbourne roads budget, this would be a tiny savings.

    Jayne, I’ve also noticed some spots have walk/don’t walk displays but still have no clicking noises — eg crossing William St at Little Bourke St.

  5. Comment about clicking noise – sometimes they get complaints about the noise from nearby residents.

    But what they really need to do is to turn them down: some of them are turned up to Kango Hammer (Nut Cracker) volume.

  6. The clicking noises are handy so that while waiting one does not have to stare at the red/green man signal. Sometimes though the rapid “safe to cross” sound from another button on a different steet causes people to start to cross the street while the man is still red. This has happened to me a few times. After getting used to listening for the “safe to cross” sound I sometimes don’t notice when I have the green man at intersections without sound. The intersection at Fitzroy St and St Kilda Rd comes to mind.

    Crossing signals making sounds was one of the first differences I noticed on my first day in Australia. Except for the very newest signals most signals in the US do not give any sound and quite often don’t seem to make the light change any faster than if one just waited for the light to change. Some new signals do have a count down feature that counts down the seconds to finish crossing. I don’t remember if I have seen one in Australia yet.

  7. There’s a few countdown timers in Australia (I recall one at maybe it’s Kew Junction? Or one of the nasty intersections out that way. Right near VicRoads headquarters).

    As I understand it, it’s a trade-off between timers and actuated intersections (sensor-controlled ones), which are the norm in Australia. I would also fear that traffic planners would think that telling pedestrians how long they have to wait for is a substitute for reducing waiting time; in fact, peds really shouldn’t have to wait so long they want to see how long they have left anyway!

  8. I remember being in Qld years ago and found out the audible signals (clicking noises) were all turned off at 7PM (since all blindies will be safe at home by then)

    Most of the new signals in Docklands are far too quit, particularly the new ones at collins St/old footscray rd.

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