Beg buttons are the bane of pedestrians.
At most locations, most of the time, you need to press a button to get permission to cross the street. And poor programming often means long waits.
Victoria Walks has this article highlighting the problems, and some of the excuses that road engineers give for not making them better.
Do motorists ever have beg buttons?
Yes. This is Eaton Street Mall in Oakleigh, at Chester Street.
By default, the lights give pedestrians a green man.
The arrival of vehicles triggers the lights to change to give them a green. When this happens it’s limited to let a few vehicles through, then change again to green for pedestrians.
Along with a nice wide crossing, this helps people walk around Eaton Mall mostly without having to wait for cars.
(The vehicle at the start of the video was well forward of the stop line. The driver might have been waiting a while if another car hadn’t arrived behind him to set off the detector. Presumably the detection works okay for cyclists, though I didn’t see any while I was there.)
So at this location, pedestrians are a higher priority than vehicles.
Last time I looked there was a similar setup in the Monash University bus loop. I’m not sure if there are others.
Some locations have zebra crossings, which do a similar job. They have the advantage of less infrastructure, though motorists are more likely to fail to give way to people crossing. But they may be more suited to some spots.
None of these have resulted in the sky falling in.
Governments often claim to want to cut traffic and increase walking. If they were serious, we’d see a lot more prioritisation of pedestrians like this.