City of Yakima, Washington Department of Public Works
Streets and Traffic Division

Many city of Yakima street intersections now have traffic signals with pedestrian pushbuttons. The City of Yakima has improved the safety of traffic signals in the downtown area by installing pedestrian push buttons and audible signals. They are simple to operate and will improve the vehicle traffic flows in the downtown area, as well as make the walking environment safer for pedestrians. The audible signals are of particular value to seniors and persons who are visually impaired.

Audible Pedestrian Traffic Signals for the Blind


Audible Pedestrian Traffic Signals for the Blind


Why do we have audible signals? The City of Yakima decided to use audible pedestrian traffic signals in the downtown area because of the number of people walking and the heavy vehicle traffic. Regional human service agencies report that Yakima has over 1500 registered blind persons.

What do the sounds mean? The audible signal is activated by the “WALK” button. When the “WALK” signal is on, the audible signal will emit one of two distinct sounds, which means it is safe to begin crossing the street:

“Cuckcoo” sound for north-south direction (such as walking along Third Street);

“Chirp-chirp” sound for east-west direction (such as walking along Yakima Avenue).

Listen to audible Cuckoo

Listen to audible Chirp

How to Use the Pedestrian Pushbutton System



1. To get a “Walk” phase, you must first press the pedestrian pushbutton. Locate the pushbutton nearest the crosswalk you wish to cross. In the downtown area, the signals have a locator tone, for the sight impaired to help find the pushbutton.A red light will go on when the pushbutton has been pressed to indicate a WALK phase is coming.



2. Wait for the WHITE, WALKING FIGURE symbol (or WALK sign on older signals) before you step off the curb.Look both ways to check for turning traffic. The WALK sign stays on about 6 seconds and means it is safe to begin walking.During the WALK phase, in the downtown, you will hear an audible signal, depending on the WALK direction:“Cuckoo” sound for the north-south direction;“Chirp-chirp” for east-west direction.




3. The FLASHING HAND (or DON’T WALK on older signals) symbol alerts pedestrians that they should not start crossing the intersection, but they may finish crossing if they are already in the crosswalk.

The audible signal will stop when the FLASHING HAND begins, indicating it is not safe to start crossing the street.



4. When the HAND (or DON’T WALK on older signals) stops flashing, traffic will begin to move across the crosswalk. Pedestrians should press the pedestrian pushbutton and wait at the curb for the next WALK symbol to be active.






Why do the sounds stop? The audible signal stops when the “FLASHING HAND” begins, which means do not begin crossing the street. You should have time to finish crossing the street if you are already in the crosswalk.

How much did the audible signals cost? The speaker for the audible signal is in the pushbutton device. Upgrading the pushbutton to an audible device added approximately $500 per unit, or $2,000 per intersection. The upgrading of these traffic signals was financed by State and Federal grants. Federal law will likely require audible signals in the future.