My natural stance when at a crossing is to stand facing where I'm going to cross. I will, from that location, look right, left, and opposite.
Well good for you and you're doing it correctly. Unfortunately 99% of people do not and wait blindly for the indication from the green man.
When I get to a puffin, I find myself doing this automatically and realising that the signal is on the pole to my immediate, either at level or slightly behind me. I then have to step back.
What, do you approach a crossing with your eyes shut. or do you simply have to think about things so slowly? Im not being rude here, its just that you make it seem such a task to notice a bright red or green man at, or just below eye level. Also, if you are pushing the button, the button is located under the display usually therefore you are not having to step away from the crossing edge you are already about half a metre away.
Telling people to just look right is encouraging a bad habit, particularly is they start doing this automatically at an unsignalised location.
How do you work that out, when you have to look right as that is where the first traffic is coming if its going to run you over when stepping out without looking?
Additional displays are used on high use crossing points, wide crossing points or toucan crossings.
As for me pointing out that the poles are not transparent, the guy in this link says the same thing. It's a coincidence, I assure you : -http://www.formfunctionemotion.net/archives/2004/06/18/puffin-pedestrian-crossing-revisited-1.html
Fist of all, that guy in the photgraph is looking behind him and not at the pole. Thats quite plain to see. However I will also point out that the puffin is not designed correctly, with the displays being perpendicular to the kerb. They should actually be 30 degrees from perpendicular, so that you are looking directly toward traffic while stood back from the edge, not - as in that picture - looking directly to the right.
I would suggest that if there were an accident at that, or another crossing so designed like that, there could be a case to answer for the local authority for failing to adhere to the design guidance - same as there would be for any other departure from the norm.
I would dispute the claim about the pole though. Even out of focus, a moving vehicle is in your peripheral vision and the movement draws your attention. Thats a fact as its the way the brain and the eye operate. A pole would not obscure that vision when stood at about half a metre from it. Any closer and you would be probably hugging the pole anyway so that argument really is a non starter from any angle, so to speak.