Creating COVID-Safe Crosswalks With Touchless Activation Systems

Touchless crosswalk activation systems allow for easier compliance with pedestrian safety systems and ensure that the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses is minimized.

With the event of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we interact with objects in public has completely changed. Pedestrians are far more aware of what they put their hands on, judging if handling objects that others have touched is worth the risk.

Unfortunately, this makes compliance with crosswalk buttons more difficult and inconsistent than it already is.


Pedestrian crossings are usually equipped with walk signals or warning lights, and almost all are triggered by pedestrian activation. Traditionally, tactile pushbuttons are the trigger for these crosswalk systems. The event of COVID-19, fear of infection, and a prevalent hygiene culture bring up a safety issue when it comes to pedestrians engaging with mid-block crosswalks.

Ideally, pedestrians should not have to choose between traffic safety and COVID safety to activate crosswalk safety systems, and they shouldn’t need to resort to unconventional means of pressing a crosswalk button.

In some cities, crosswalks are being completely automated to eliminate the need for buttons. This may seem logical, but reaching a decision to fully automate crosswalk signals has been a point of debate in many cities across the world. It is expensive, both in equipment cost, labour, and infrastructure changes, and can result in false activations. As cities grow and traffic systems become more complex, it is important to avoid stopping traffic when the crosswalk is not in use to reduce congestion.


LaneLight offers solutions that address the apprehension towards push-activated pedestrian buttons by removing the touch requirement.

  • WaveButton Touchless Pedestrian Button: The WaveButton senses specific, close-range motion by using, in simplified terms, radar. The pedestrian is simply required to wave their hand in front of the marked sensor, activating the system just as a traditional, mechanical button would. The WaveButton comes with a “Wave for Walk Signal” sign and integrates seamlessly into existing traffic warning systems, usually using the existing pushbutton’s mounting means and connections. The WaveButton also reacts to being touched, as a traditional pushbutton would.
  • Passive Activation Systems: Passive bollards require very little from the pedestrian. Bollards are placed on the entry of a crosswalk, detecting nearly 100% of pedestrians who pass through the zone between the bollards. They are available as single-sensor bollards or pole mount sensors for short-range detection, and through-beam infra-red type for wider detection fields. Since there is no engagement needed from the pedestrian, it ensures exceptional compliance.
Wavebutton™ Touchless Pedestrian Button with sign
passive activation bollard lighting system

Both activation systems integrate with other LaneLight products, such as in-road warning lightsRRFBs, pedestrian hybrid signals (HAWK) and LED enhanced signs.

Touchless crosswalk activation systems improve compliance and remove the dangers of touching public buttons. With hygiene culture seemingly being here to stay, alternatives to the traditional touch button activation need to be created. The WaveButton and passive bollard systems provide the ideal solution.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have!