Crossing the street might be getting a little more interesting. Two German interaction design students have created a prototype for STREETPONG, an urban game that you can play while you’re waiting for the light to change.
When the walk signal turns red, the game comes on, mounted on a street pole in place of the usual walk button. Pedestrians on each side of the street can play a version of Pong with each other. When the signal turns green, the game is over. As one of the designers points out in their short (and rough) demo video, it’s a fun way to interact with a complete stranger. It’s also a way to help keep people from crossing dangerous intersections.
In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, streets are narrow and there isn’t much traffic. Pedestrians never wait for street lights, and apart from the occasional taxi driving 20 mph over the speed limit, it’s fairly safe. But in many less walkable places, encouraging people to respect walk signals makes a lot of sense. Why not make it fun to wait, rather than handing out tickets to jaywalkers?