Pedestrian Push Buttons
ped push buttonIs it really necessary for pedestrians to use push buttons at intersections?

Pedestrians are strongly encouraged to use push buttons to activate pedestrian crossing signals. Pedestrian actuated signals are installed at intersections where traffic signals are timed primarily for vehicular traffic. If you don't push the button to activate the pedestrian signal, the traffic signal may not allow you time to safely cross the street. It only requires one push of the button to activate the pedestrian crossing signal.

What exactly do each of the pedestrian signal displays mean?

When the PEDESTRIAN WALK SIGNAL comes on, that means you should start your crossing. Look for right-turning vehicles before you enter the road. Walk at a brisk pace. Keep your eye on the traffic.

When the DON'T WALK HAND SIGNAL BEGINS TO FLASH, do not begin your crossing. If you are in the middle of your crossing, continue to the other side of the street. You will have plenty of time to get there.

When the DON'T WALK HAND SIGNAL TURNS SOLID RED, don't attempt to start a crossing. At this point you must wait until a fresh pedestrian walk symbol comes up again.

If I am in the middle of the crosswalk when the DON'T WALK signal starts to flash, should I turn around and go back?

No. The flashing DON'T WALK signal means it's too late to start your crossing. If you have already begun to cross and the DON'T WALK signal begins to flash, continue at your normal pace. You will have time to get to the other side.
Check out Redmond's pedestrian countdown signals, now located at the City's signalized intersections.