Tue, 4 Sep, 2018Basmah Qazi

The question on everyone’s mind: Does the pedestrian button do anything?

The question on everyone’s mind: Does the pedestrian button do anything?

Picture this: You’re standing at a pedestrian crossing waiting for the red man to turn green. One-minute turns to five and next thing you know you’ve been standing there waiting for an eternity. To speed things up, you decide to press the pedestrian button a number of times but still no luck. Sound familiar? Because according to the latest reports, you may have been getting conned for the past 24 years.

The nation is divided on the topic of whether pressing the pedestrian button has any effect on the traffic lights, but the answer is, it’s dependant on which state you reside in.

The bad news is mainly for Sydney-siders, because if you’ve been pressing the pedestrian button hoping for the man to turn green between 7 am and 7 pm on Monday to Thursday and from 7 am to 9 pm on Friday – you’ve been conned.

According to, signals throughout Sydney have been set to “automated pedestrian phases”, which means those buttons have been useless since 1994.

Though it does change over the weekend, as on Saturday the automated times are set to run from 8:30 am to 9pm, and Sunday is the when you should really push the button as that’s the day you’ll notice a difference.

Every Sunday the automated times are disabled and the effort you put into pressing that button will actually have a direct impact on halting traffic.

Speaking to, a spokeswoman from Transport for NSW said these automated phases are set in areas where there is a “high level of pedestrian activity, at specific times of the day".

“These phases are constantly reviewed against demand profiles of road users and other changes that may affect the network,” she said.

“Shorter wait times have kept pedestrians moving and could potentially reduce the risk of jaywalking and pedestrian crashes.”

The system also takes into account large events happening around the city, which bring in an influx of pedestrians.

Studies show that if pedestrians around the country are made to wait more than a minute to cross the road, there is a high chance they’ll attempt to cross illegally.

Due to this, waiting times in the city have been reduced since January, going from two minutes to 90 seconds – which is the most anyone should be waiting before crossing the road.

Though for Sydney residents, the results are vastly different. With studies showing that Sydney-siders are willing to wait for 30 seconds before jaywalking.

According to Transport for NSW, the automated phases are in place for Sydney CBD, North Sydney and Parramatta. And for all other areas in the state, it is claimed that pushing the button does make a difference.

What do you think about the wait times at pedestrian crossings at traffic lights? Let us know in the comments down below.