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Folks using mobility aides cannot reach this button.
It is called a "beg button" because people walking have to push it to _request permission_ to cross the street since the pedestrian signal heads typically do not just come on each cycle.
Okay. "Beg" implies doing something demeaning, asking for special consideration, something not to be done under ordinary circumstances. In this case it appears to be a pejorative term, that offense is taken by having to push a button to get a certain action.
Transporting oneself from A to B requires many actions. Getting up, taking steps, watching for and dodging obstacles, etc. Most doors don't open automatically as you approach. Latches have to be grabbed and twisted slightly before the door will open. These could be called "beg handles."
Consider an elevator. To eliminate the need to push a button, it could be cycled constantly up and down, doors opening and closing on every floor. Other than the energy wasted for constant motion, this is similar to and shows how a traffic signal would operate without detection and the disadvantages. Which is why both usually operate on-demand.
Deriving intent is the key to accurate detection. Passive pedestrian detection, using radar or video, besides being hugely expensive, can be difficult to set up. Like cars, there are places pedestrians would have to stand to show intent to cross in a particular direction. These might be called "beg zones." Or, as has been done since at least the 1960's, a button could be pressed, communicating a clear intent to cross in a certain direction.
Pressing a button is not the same as asking permission. That places the machine as superior, instead of being built by us and for us for our convenience.
Like an elevator, a signal cycling over and over again just to eliminate the need for a button press is very inefficient. It guarantees the high probability of a wait, whereas a simple button press can often cause a signal to change immediately if there is no opposing demand.
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