Are We Being Lied To?
Apparently - according to this BBC story - a good number of buttons on pedestrian crossings do nothing, as crossings are often automated, at least part of the time. This isn't simply in response to traffic. Some stops in North London are timed to avoid Jews having to operate them on the Sabbath!
The article focuses on whether we're being lied to when buttons don't actually do anything. I'm not sure I've ever been clearly told, by someone in charge of them, that the buttons do something; the authorities need only give the instruction 'press the button and wait for the green man' which is reasonable advice, even if the button may do nothing in some cases.
I found the brief comments on jaywalking more interesting, given that I've recently been thinking about paternalism and cases like Mill's bridge-crosser. Martin Low, transport commissioner for Westminster City Council, apparently thinks that we should allow individuals to judge for themselves whether it's safe to cross.