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Pan Handler Working an Intersection

  1. May 16, 2007 #1
    What I did today, by edward

    Outside of the city limits of Tucson panhandlers can stand in the center median and wave their "will work for food" signs.

    I was stopped at an intersection so wide that a pedestrian could not be expected to make it all the way across on the walk light. It had a second "push to cross" button on a pole in the median so a person wouldn't be stranded there. We have a number of these wide intersections ,as I suppose a lot of communities do.

    I was watching a guy holding up his sign and walking down along the long line of cars stopped in the left turn lane. I am familiar with that intersection and it appeared to me that the line of vehicles was much longer than it should have been for that time of day.

    After several minutes the panhandler walked up to the "push to cross" button and pushed it. He then proceeded back down along the line of cars he was working.

    I suspected that the guy was working the traffic lights in his favor. By pushing the button at just the right interval he could delay the through traffic he was panhandling from.

    I pulled through the intersection on the green light and into a parking lot. I watched the guy for about ten minutes routinely returning and pushing the "push to cross" button.

    I was a bit amused by his creativity, but was more of the mind to whack the guy on the head with one of EVO'S frozen fish.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2007 #2
    :rofl: Stupid homeless people. You could have called the cops and had him arrested.
  4. May 17, 2007 #3


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    I have seen this behavior by senior citizen volunteers at school crossings. They will sometimes get in the habit of pushing the dang pedestrian crossing button, even if there are no students there yet. This disruption of car traffic seems like it should be against the vehicle code, but I haven't done a search yet. Anybody else done the search?
  5. May 17, 2007 #4


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    Luckily, traffic lights don't work that way here. The pedestrian 'push to cross' button means only that when the lights change there will be a 'walk' light included. The timing is not interrupted.
  6. May 17, 2007 #5


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    Really? Here in Canada/south the pedestrian cycle is different because the timing of the green has to be long enough to let a pedestrian cross, as opposed to a 5-second timeout on the vehicle sensors. Depending on the size of the intersection, this can mean a 20-25 second green timeout for the pedestrian button option, as opposed to he 3-5 second timeout on the vehicle sensor loops.

    What, do Canadians run across the intersections? :biggrin:
  7. May 17, 2007 #6
    Vistors have a hard time crossing pennsylvania ave because they are not used to crossing such a big intersection, its 6+ lanes wide.

    http://www.nps.gov/archive/paav/capitol.jpg [Broken] http://img.search.com/thumb/5/50/Pennsylvania_Avenue,_Washington_DC,_USA,_1998.jpg/300px-Pennsylvania_Avenue,_Washington_DC,_USA,_1998.jpg

    Its almost like trying to cross a freeway.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  8. May 17, 2007 #7


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    i do the same, but my sign says "will explain riemann roch for gianduotti."
  9. May 17, 2007 #8


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    Some feel obliged to; I just walk fast. :biggrin:
    I can't speak for other cities, but in my area the 'Walk' light switches to 'Don't' after about 5 seconds. It doesn't actually mean that you can't cross; it's just a warning that if you start now you might have to hurry. A pedestrian trapped in a red-light situation part way across still has the right-of-way.
    The only effect upon the traffic lights themselves seems to be that the advance turn arrow is disabled in some cases.
    Last edited: May 17, 2007
  10. May 17, 2007 #9


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    I've seen some cities with crosswalk signs that count down the time left to cross on intersections like that. I don't know if D.C. has started using those yet, but it does help a bit with motivating the nitwits who just stroll across the intersection to get through before the light changes.

    Though, at very busy intersections, I prefer when the crosswalk sign is accompanied by red lights in all directions so the pedestrians can quickly get across. Just getting a green light doesn't help if you still need to dodge people making turns. We have one intersection near campus that I hate, not because it's a large intersection, but because it's fairly busy and once you're into the road, cars turning left from one of the smaller streets can't necessarily see you until they have already entered the intersection. Plus, they have one continuous right turn lane that remains a continuous right, even when you're trying to cross through it. At least there's a little median to stand on before crossing that lane, so you can get across everything else playing chicken and then wait for the one lane to clear, but some times of day, it can be a long wait before someone slows or stops for a pedestrian to cross there.

    I don't know if there are any specific rules against pushing the cross button and not crossing, but if someone is really disrupting traffic all day just to panhandle, I'm sure if the police were notified, they would be able to at least tell him to keep moving along.
  11. May 17, 2007 #10


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    Pan handling alone is illegal, so the police will tell him to go away even if he's not disrupting flow :wink:
  12. May 17, 2007 #11
    Near MIT there are a lot of those, on even the smallest intersections.
  13. May 18, 2007 #12


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    That depends on the city; at least in the US.

    Usually, panhandling alone isn't a crime. Some cities do require panhandling permits and city office workers would probably be totally befuddled if someone actually came in and applied for one, so it could be illegal. A lot of cities put restrictions on panhandling, such as prohibiting panhandling within a certain distance of ATMS, etc.

    Very few cities ban panhandling completely and their ban probably wouldn't be enforcable, even if they tried. Virtually none do. Unless a panhandler causes some other problem, virtually none are prosecuted for panhandling. Blanket panhandling bans probably wouldn't withstand a court challenge, anyway.

    Banning panhandling at an intersection is a common ban, so the panhandler in the original post probably was breaking the law.
  14. May 18, 2007 #13
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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