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Learn how to request new pedestrian crossings and how the City decides what is done for pedestrian safety.

Why do some left-turn phases only allow vehicles to turn when the green arrow is displayed and

This type of left-turn phase, known as "protected-prohibited" is designed to separate left-turning traffic from opposing through traffic. Even if an acceptable gap exists in the oncoming through traffic, vehicles are required to wait for the green arrow in order to turn left.

"Protected-prohibited" phases are currently operating in Edmonton at intersections such as but not limited to Yellowhead Trail & 149th Street and 87th Avenue & 170th Street. These turn phases are implented for safety-related reasons where double left-turn lanes exist, where there are a high number of left-turning accidents, where turning vehicles cross LRT tracks, or where other safety issues are present.

Why aren't more signals put on flash late at night?

For safety-related reasons, the majority of traffic signals in the City are not put on flash at night. A flashing traffic signal may cause driver confusion, provides no pedestrian protection and may increase the incidences of "drag racing".

The City does however have vehicle-actuated traffic signals at many intersections in Edmonton. At these signals, the light remains green for the main street traffic until side-street traffic is detected. This operation results in lower overall vehicle delay.

Why are pedestrian countdown timers not at every signalized intersection?

The City has adopted the use of pedestrian countdown signals as standard devices at signalized intersections. These devices are installed at every new intersection, at intersections where two or more traffic signal poles are replaced / relocated, or at existing intersections based on a priority program. The priority program considers locations where the devices will be most beneficial to pedestrians such as: locations near seniors’ centre or residences, medical facilities, elementary and junior high schools, and high pedestrian activity intersections. All signalized intersections will be equipped with the countdown device in due time.

When I'm driving my car, do the pedestrian lights and countdown timers give me a good idea of when the traffic signal is going to change?

Although pedestrian signals including the countdown timers are designed for pedestrians, not vehicles, drivers do sometimes look at these lights as an advance-warning tool. Drivers should instead use the signals amber and red intervals as an indication of an impending change in right of way. The City follows a standard guideline in its design of amber and red periods for traffic signals. The amber period provides time for drivers to react to a signal change and decide whether to stop or to safely proceed through an intersection. The red period, where all directions face a red display, provides additional time for vehicles already in an intersection to clear before opposing traffic enters.

Shouldn't the walk light for pedestrians remain on until I am safely across the street?

The walk light indicates when it is safe for pedestrians to begin crossing. In Edmonton, the duration of the walk light may be as short as seven seconds but can often be greater when the duration of the green light for vehicles is relatively long. The walk light display is followed by a red flashing hand known as the "clearance phase". The duration of the clearance phase is dependent on the width of the road being crossed. If a pedestrian steps off the curb and begins crossing just as the red hand starts flashing, there should be adequate time for the pedestrian to finish crossing. If the flashing red hand appears when you are only part way across the street, you should continue crossing as there is still adequate time to clear the intersection. Once the flashing red hand is displayed it is not recommended for pedestrians to begin crossing as there may not be sufficient time remaining to cross the street safely. Pedestrians should then wait for the next walk light to cross.

Why don't we have audible signals at all crosswalks in the City?

Audible signals are provided at key signalized intersections to assist the visually impaired to cross the roadway. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) encourages visually impaired persons to cross based on traffic noise as opposed to a reliance on audible signals. These signals are generally used only in special circumstances such as when the intersection geometry is unusual or vehicle-turning volumes are high. The City coordinates locations for audible signals in conjunction with the CNIB.

At some pedestrian signals, I press the button and get a walk light very quickly. At other pedestrian signals, I press the button and have to wait for the walk light. Why? Is the push button broken?

In order to minimize stops and reduce vehicle delays on high traffic corridors, many pedestrian signals are coordinated with adjacent traffic signals. Once the push button is pressed, an indicator light turns on to let the pedestrian know that a "call has been entered". The pedestrian must then wait for the walk light to be displayed. Pedestrians should note that pressing the push button more than once will not display the walk light any sooner. The wait time at co-ordinated pedestrian signals depends on when the button is activated in the "signal cycle" and could range from an almost instant response up to a wait of more than a minute.

Why do I have to use a pedestrian push button at some crosswalks while at other crosswalks the light comes on automatically?

"Walk/Don't Walk" signals that are automatically displayed are installed at intersections where the duration of the green light required for vehicle traffic in a given direction is greater than the required pedestrian crossing time. At intersections where the required minimum vehicle green time is less than the pedestrian crossing time, pedestrian push buttons are installed. If the pedestrian button is not activated, the duration of the green light can be extended for the high volume vehicle movements. This operation allows for reduced delays to traffic.

What is a pedestrian scramble?

A pedestrian scramble phase allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time. Pedestrian scramble phases are beneficial when heavy pedestrian traffic and vehicle turning movements by reducing the number of conflict points. This type of phasing significantly reduces vehicle capacity and increases delay and congestion; therefore, intersections are independently evaluated to determine the effectiveness of a pedestrian scramble phase.

For More Information

Parks and Roads Services

​16th Floor Edmonton Tower
10111 - 104 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
T5J 0J4

Telephone 311
Fax 780-495-0330
Email 311@edmonton.ca

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