Crosswalk countdowns and icons Matt 23 Nov 2005

crosswalk manSpeaking of countdowns, DC and Copenhagen (and other cities?) are now using countdown timers at pedestrian crosswalks so you know exactly how much time you’ve got left to make a run for it. DC’s putting them everywhere and reader Steen reports that Copenhagen is using them on Stroget, a central walkway/shopping street.

I’ve experienced the D.C. ones and they’re definitely helpful. Though it’s kind of disarming to constantly see time running out on you everywhere you turn. Your leisurely afternoon stroll quickly begins to feel like an episode of 24.

Nonetheless, I’m assuming the idea will spread which means we may be looking at the disappearance of Crosswalk Men like Vancouver’s big stepper and Berlin’s green-hatted guy (above). The latter is now a cult object for East German afficionados and has become one of the most lucrative Berlin souvenir icons.

The Ampelmannchen (“little street-light man”) wears a wide-brim hat and walks with an animated gait. He’s won over all Berliners and thus has held his ground in most of East Berlin. He’s even become one of the most lucrative Berlin souvenir icons — he adorns coffee cups, key chains, and there’s even candy made in his image.