- Nov 20, 2009
- Reaction score
Yes. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act Regulation 626 Traffic Control Signal Systems states:Illegal in Ontario?:
I enter because 80% the time I could get to the other side and back again before it turns solid. Some of those things start flashing 30 seconds before the light actually changes. They seem to be set for elderly with walkers or something.Do people enter the intersection during the Flashing Don't Walk because they don't know what the signals mean, or because they think they can make it to the other side in time?
Ever wonder what happens when you push the button at a crosswalk? Or why some lights seem to change instantly, while others will leave you waiting to cross for what seems like an eternity?
(Spoiler: In Toronto, that eternity is probably only about two minutes.)
Metro spoke with Linda Lee, a supervisor with the city’s Traffic Management Centre, to get the skinny on what exactly “push to cross” means.
According to Lee, Toronto has about 2,300 controlled crosswalks. Of those, 70 per cent are what’s known as “semi-actuated.” Typically found at the intersection of a major thoroughfare and a residential street, these signals only change when a car pulls up or when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button.
Depending on traffic volumes, Lee said you can expect to wait anywhere from six seconds to two minutes for the signal to change once the button’s been pressed.
Once the walk light is on, the amount of time you have to cross depends on the size of the intersection. Generally speaking, Lee said pedestrians are assumed to be travelling at around one metre per second.
Amusingly, about 10 per cent of crosswalk buttons in Toronto don’t have any effect on traffic signals at all. At these “fixed time” intersections, Lee said the buttons are only there so pedestrians with visual impairments can activate the audible crossing signal.
One in three crosswalks in Toronto are equipped with accessible audio signals, Lee said. They don’t sound unless someone has held the button down for three seconds or more.
The signals make a “cuckoo” noise for north-south crossings and a “chirping” sound for east-west ones, said Lee.
Most crosswalks are equipped with a countdown, showing how much time is left before a signal change. However, just because a countdown is visible doesn’t mean the light is going to change, Lee said. At the end of the countdown, some crosswalks will simply reset if no one has hit the button.
“So, if you see a button, the best thing to do is push it,” Lee said.
Hopefully they are coming to the realization that they are not being used as intended and are (IMO) adding to intersection gridlock/confusion/congestion.Has anyone else noticed that a lot of the countdown timers haven't been working recently? This started about a month ago, and I've noticed at least one of the countdowns not working at the following intersections (some may have been fixed since I noticed): Brant and Adelaide, Spadina and Richmond, Spadina and Queen, Spadina and Harbord, Sherbourne and Wellesley, Sherbourne and Carlton, Parliament and Carlton... and many more. I tweeted at 311 and they said they didn't know why so many were down, but to tweet the intersections at them and they'd send Transportation Services over to have a look. Which is not really a satisfactory answer, because before a month ago, I rarely if ever saw a missing countdown around downtown. Something must have changed...
Countdown signals are contributing to gridlock and congestion? Please explain.Hopefully they are coming to the realization that they are not being used as intended and are (IMO) adding to intersection gridlock/confusion/congestion.
People are not looking at the countdown and saying (as they are supposed to) "oh, the countdown has started...I cannot enter the intersection but those people already in there have 'X' seconds to finish their crossing." Instead, almost universally, people see the countdown and say "oh, only 6 seconds to cross university, I better scurry along".......the old flashing hand did not tell pedestrians how long they had so more assumed that they should not go. When I am walking around downtown I get some funny looks (and have had people barge into me on more than one occasion) because I, strangely, stopped at the sidewalk at the sight of the countdown.Countdown signals are contributing to gridlock and congestion? Please explain.
If anyone thinks that gridlock has 1, and only 1, cause they are mistaken. I would not dispute that this particular driving behaviour (amongst others) is a contributing factor....but so is what I describe above....lights and their cycles are timed to try and give the correct share of time to, both, pedestrians and vehicles, when one or the other disturbs the balance it throws the efficiency of the controlled intersection out of whack.IMO, the reason why there's gridlock is because too many people are driving downtown, and proceeding through intersections when the road ahead of them isn't clear, backing up traffic on the cross-street.
They might well scurry across at 6 seconds when there is still plenty of time to cross. But I see lots of people not entering when it only says 2-3 seconds. And it's very reassuring when I've got kids with me, that we are in the intersection and it's starts with 20 seconds, rather than 6 seconds.People are not looking at the countdown and saying (as they are supposed to) "oh, the countdown has started...I cannot enter the intersection but those people already in there have 'X' seconds to finish their crossing." Instead, almost universally, people see the countdown and say "oh, only 6 seconds to cross university, I better scurry along".......the old flashing hand did not tell pedestrians how long they had so more assumed that they should not go.