In this case, good riddance:
You won’t see these naked ‘beg buttons’ in Sydney at the moment. Nor in Brisbane nor Melbourne. They’ve been covered with signs to inform pedestrians that they’ve been automated – like these on the North Shore:
As Brent Toderian notes: “They’re called ‘beg buttons’ as a pejorative because they put pedestrians in the position of having to beg for access to the other side of the street. It suggests the pedestrian is in a secondary, at best, position – an afterthought.”
The buttons also present practical problems. They can be difficult or impossible to access for people with mobility challenges. They can be easy to miss, and even after the button has been pushed, it often takes a full cycle of the light before the “walk” sign lights up, leaving the pedestrian to wait in the elements.
We have a few in Vancouver too, though a lot have been removed over the years as the growth in pedestrian traffic has made them an unnecessary irritant. But they’re everywhere in Australia – notably in some of the highest ped-traffic areas in the country. Hopefully many will be simply be removed.