This week, the California Highway Patrol tweeted a video of a traffic signal meant to help pedestrians cross Golden Gate Park Trail in San Francisco that instead ends up flashing a “ticket” sign whenever nobody’s around.
In the video, shots of the box, which measures 6 feet by 8 feet, are interspersed with blurry footage of people walking. The box ― which turns red a specific number of times per hour ― is apparently supposed to catch pedestrians and warn them of a potential hazard so they’ll stay off the bike path until it turns green.
As far as we can tell, the LED version of the box doesn’t slow down once someone crosses. In fact, the box turns red and glows red so frequently that it looks like it’s perpetually monitoring pedestrians for false-alarm signs.
The CHP says it got complaints about the light in the Northeast Division and investigated. But it’s unclear what exactly prompted the investigation. We reached out to the CHP on Thursday but didn’t hear back.
The California State Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the trail system, says the lights used are a relic of the days when Parks Department, not the CHP, operated the trail system.
Though the CHP did notice there were concerns with pedestrians walking the trail without looking and didn’t act immediately on it, one of the chain-link fences that surrounds the box makes it clear that the CHP is responsible for the safety of the park space.
“The CHP adheres to state regulations about safety for pedestrians,” the agency said in a statement. “Safer parking structures are being installed.”
Previously, the CHP told the San Francisco Examiner that it was looking at “more visible pedestrian signs” in the future.
“We hope to install one more sign to more clearly inform pedestrians and bicyclists of traffic safety,” the agency said.