The Traffic Signals They are a Changin’

Times change and communities grow – and that means that traffic signals evolve too. This year, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is making a number of traffic signal safety improvements in many areas of the province, including the installation of pedestrian countdown timers and advanced left turn arrows on Vancouver Island.

traffic signal
The Countdown is On

Pedestrian Countdown Timers

Traffic signals are not just for motorists, they help pedestrians move through traffic too. Have you ever entered a crosswalk only to watch the “walking man” quickly replaced by the “do not walk” sign? Pedestrian countdown timers are installed at busier intersections to help pedestrians understand how much time they have left to complete their crossing at an intersection and make an informed decision about safely starting to cross the road. This can be particularly helpful to those with mobility issues who might need a few extra seconds to cross. All cross walk signal times are calculated based on average walking speeds and extra crossing time is given in areas where pedestrian mobility is lower. A pedestrian countdown timer is now en route to the intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17 on Vancouver Island, where traffic volumes are on the rise and we felt that pedestrians could benefit from the extra time reminder. Think of it as an opportunity to beat your personal best.

Traffic signal
Warning: May Cause Happiness at Intersection

Advanced Left Turn Arrow

A real sign of the times – an advanced left turn arrow means volume is really ramping up – which is exactly what is scheduled to happen on Highway 1 at Kilamalu and Fisher Roads. In order to give motorists an “all’s clear” window of opportunity to turn left, and to help traffic move efficiently, these intersections will soon have traffic signals with a dedicated green arrow light. And who doesn’t love getting to go first?

So, why did the car cross the road? Because the advanced left turn green arrow signal made it so easy of course! And why did the pedestrian cross at the intersection? Because the countdown showed them it was safe to do so. Whatever your reason, thanks to these upcoming improvements, you can cross that road when you come to it.

5 comments on “The Traffic Signals They are a Changin’”

Leave a Comment

  1. I was amused by the tag under the Advanced Green image above “Warning: May Cause Happiness at Intersection”. WRONG, at least in Pitt Meadows at the intersection of Harris Road & the Lougheed Hwy. Here the city has supported the view that those facing a RED light may turn in the same direction as those turning on the Advanced Green light. Section 129 (3) specifically states Stop & Yield to such turning traffic from an Arterial Hwy. Since the MVA does not grant any local government the authority to ‘manage’ traffic on an arterial hwy. Why has the City of Pitt Meadows not been asked to correct its messaging to resident drivers? We all know many collisions occur at intersections, we all know ICBC has a big financial problem to address…how can it be that thinking persons want to blend restricted green light turning traffic with red light turning traffic? Long time driving instructors & testers know that there is no law that restricts such left turning traffic (except to the right side on the roadway). In my view this needs to be fixed. For your information, the Ridge Meadows RCMP Detachment was asked to endorse the material published on the City’s web site. It said NO, in fact suggesting that perhaps some enforcement of stop & yield might help. I said NO. I am not interested in penalizing citizens who are acting on the erroneous information provided by a local government in B.C.

    • Good afternoon Rick.

      We shared your message with our local Operations Manager, Grant Smith who informed us that you are quite correct in that the eastbound right turn traffic at the intersection of Lougheed Highway and Harris Road when faced with a red traffic signal, must come to a complete stop and yield the right-of way to pedestrians, bicycles and vehicular traffic that is proceeding on a signal that indicates that they may make that movement.

      We will have our Traffic Engineering section review the operations to determine if there are any reasonable signing improvements that can be made to mitigate this issue. We have copied the Ridge Meadows RCMP Department to advise them of this issue for them to consider prioritization of some spot enforcement.

      He also confirmed that he shared your concerns with the Road Safety Programs at ICBC to follow-up with your prior request for driver education.

      If you have other highway operational issues, please feel free to contact Grant at 604 527-2155.

  2. If left turn arrows are in place because the volume of traffic is up and the safety of motorists is paramount then why has the left turn green arrow at Hwy 97 and Leckie rd in Kelowna been restricted.At 4pm it took six (6) light cycles for three (3) vehicles to make the turn and one (1) was on a red light and it was a near miss. I hope that someone does not have to be injured or worse because of this outragouse change. These controls are to keep traffic moving not to create a parking lot in the middle of the highway.

    • Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. We have shared your concern forward with our traffic engineering department for review.

    • Hi Leslie –

      The ministry and the City of Kelowna partnered in an engineering study concerning advance left turn arrows along Hwy 97 in Kelowna. The option that was selected by the ministry and the city provides new advance left turn phasing at several intersections while a few locations are restricted to time of day operation to provide a good balance between turning traffic and highway thru traffic. On average over 60,000 vehicles traverse through Hwy 97 every day and it would be impossible to provide minimum delays to all traffic and therefore advance left turn arrows are optimally located at selected locations and time of day.

      Hope that this helps!