Greater City Providence

Atwells and Dean

If these buttons are the only way to make the walk lights come on (I mean, if the walk lights don’t come on automatically), I’m going to push all of these buttons everytime I walk through the intersection whether I need the lights to come on or not.

Atwells Avenue and Dean Street

And Maude damn are these traffic lights ugly!

Atwells Avenue and Dean Street

On a positive note, this week they’ve been working on the triangle on the northwest side of the intersection. While the sidewalk has been torn up and impassable for pedestrians, a row of barrels has been set up to make a pathway for pedestrians. No playing frogger with the traffic by walking in the street.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Press those buttons all you want, its not going to make a difference. They’re placebo buttons and have no effect on the signal changes.

  • I hope they are placebo buttons. But the city (or maybe RIDOT) has lately been putting up walk lights that only turn to walk if you push the buttons. Otherwise, there is no walk light during the light cycle, even when it would be appropriate for the walk light to come on. This is the current behavior at Atwells and the Service Roads.

    Not having the walk light on gives the drivers turning right across the crosswalk an indication that they have the right of way and that pedestrians don’t belong in the crosswalk. In order to cross legally, with the walk light, it can take a couple cycles of the light, even when I would be within my rights to cross, were it not that the walk light simply won’t come on unless you press the button.

  • No jack, contrary to popular belief, many of these buttons are NOT placebo ones. Especially the ones being shown. If installed correctly, the buttons shows will always emit a low beeping noise so a blind person can find it. When pushed, the beeping noise (slow) will become louder, to tell the blind person their presence is known. When the walk signal displays, it will beep quickly and loudly, indicating it is safe to cross.

    Deluxe models speak, instead of beep. So it may say “wait, wait, wait” and then “you may cross x street, you may cross x street, wait, wait wait”

    The lights that Jef is talking about are a huge step back for pedestrians, and you must speak against them. As Jef pointed out, they require a pedestrian to push the button, and thus give the ROW to the cars at almost all times.

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