Eyes on the Street

Beg Buttons Removed at Young and James

The pedestrian 'beg buttons' have been removed from the intersection of James Street South and Young Street.

By Kevin Love
Published July 20, 2017

Good news! The pedestrian "beg buttons" have been removed at the intersection of James Street South and Young street. Before:

South side of Young Street at James showing beg buttons (Image Credit: Google Street View)
South side of Young Street at James showing beg buttons (Image Credit: Google Street View)

And after:

Southeast corner of Young and James - No more beg button!
Southeast corner of Young and James - No more beg button!

A beg button is a button that pedestrians must press in order to get a walk signal at a crosswalk. For pedestrian-activated signalized crosswalks, beg buttons make sense. But for fully signalized intersections that cycle through alternating red and green traffic signals, it makes no sense for a pedestrian to have to press a button to be allowed to cross with the green traffic signal.

Many people have written about how demeaning and discriminatory beg buttons are. Others have written about how dangerous they make intersections.

Other people have written about how beg buttons reduce the quality of life for their victims. And others about how they stymie visually impaired persons.

Many cities have implemented policies to remove beg buttons. One example is Edmonton. Let us sincerely hope that removing the beg buttons at James and Young is a harbinger that Hamilton is following this good example.

With files from Ryan McGreal.

Kevin is a professional accountant and a retired infantry officer with the Canadian Forces. Kevin keeps encountering people who were students of his father, Dr. Robert Love, who was a professor at MacMaster University from 1977-2008. He lives near Durand Park in Hamilton and is currently Vice-Chair of the Hamilton Cycling Committee.


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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted July 19, 2017 at 21:51:12 in reply to Comment 121742

Hmmm... I wonder if Hamilton is implementing a policy, such as in Edmonton (see link in article), to remove beg buttons. But is not announcing that policy. There is nothing about it on the City's walking and pedestrians webpage.

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted July 19, 2017 at 22:00:18

Stern language for a "beg button". Haha

They are silly though and unnecessary. The walk signal should be default. And if no one is there, cars need not yield.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 20, 2017 at 08:21:56

There was/is also one to cross Dundurn at Herkimer.

Very inconvenient and inconsiderate, especially when walking children home from school. If you don't get to the intersection in time to push the button before a car activates the signal you have to wait an entire light cycle to cross. It is also confusing for children who see a green light, but a "don't walk" pedestrian signal. Of course, the activation is automatic for cars! I hope they remove this one as well.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 24, 2017 at 13:19:47 in reply to Comment 121745

That one is slightly different since the intersection is controlled by either the button or by a vehicle needing to turn, it's not on a regular rotation.

It would be nice if the pedestrian crossing came on as a rule though instead of just with a button push.

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