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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Cracking the code on Manchester's crosswalk buttons

By KATIE McQUAID
August 11. 2017 7:43PM
A crosswalk button at Hanover and Elm streets in Manchester on Friday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

AFTER A JULY 24 story in The Boston Globe exposed the majority of the pedestrian buttons in that city’s downtown don’t actually do anything, I started to wonder whether my own button-pressing here in Manchester was just as futile.

But we Manchester pedestrians can feel confident that pushing the walk button at downtown intersections will actually get us somewhere.

“Our pedestrians are much more spread out, so we need the button,” said city traffic engineer Kristen Clarke.

As the Globe article explained, Boston’s downtown is too congested “to allow any one person to manipulate the cycle,” so the pedestrian cycle comes up in every rotation.

Manchester intersections only need to include the pedestrian cycle in the rotation if there is a pedestrian waiting, and pressing the button tells the system to add the walk signal in the rotation.

But, I asked Clarke, why do I have to wait longer at some intersections than others? She explained that pushing the button doesn’t mean walkers will get to go next. “It keeps its rotation,” she said.

For example, if an intersection’s rotation is North, South, East, West, walk, the walk signal will always come on after the West signal, regardless of when the pedestrian button is pushed. So sometimes the walk signals comes quickly, and sometimes it seems to take forever.

Yoda painting the streets?

While I had Clarke on the phone, I decided to ask her about the freshly painted “Block Not Do” sign painted on Candia Road near Dunkin’ Donuts and the new 6 North apartment complex.

I have seen similar signs around the city before, and I understand they are intended to be read as you approach each word, so that you “Do Not Block” the intersection. But the backwards wording seems quite silly and unnecessary.

I asked Clarke whether Yoda was in charge of the sign department.

Clarke said Yoda isn’t to blame. The Federal Highway Administration of the United States Department of Transportation sets the standards for such roadway communication in its “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.”

I feel sorry for the people who have to read that book. May the force be with them.

30 is the new 12

I have seen many events on our NH365.org calendar that are free for kids under 12, but never one that is free for under 30. But the New Hampshire Association of Antiques Dealers knows its audience, and it looks like the organization would like the demographics to skew a little younger.

That’s why admission to the 60th annual New Hampshire Antiques Show, which runs today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Radisson, is free if you’re under 30, but $10 for everyone else. I predict 40-year-olds across New Hampshire will be making fake IDs to make themselves younger.

Exhibitors offer a wide range of country and formal antique furniture and accessories including clocks, folk art, paintings and prints, textiles, woodenware, nautical and scientific items, metalware, glassware, pottery and ceramics, early lighting, samplers, Shaker furniture and accessories, decoys, architectural and garden ornaments, and other items.

If you have an interesting item for The Scene, contact Katie at Scene@UnionLeader.com.


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