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Traffic and Pedestrian Signals

York Region manages and maintains approximately 825 traffic signals.  The centralized traffic control system assists in identifying problems and can monitor the traffic signals, in helping identify issues. 

Pedestrian Signals and Push Buttons

Pedestrian push buttons are located at signalized intersection, and when activated provides pedestrian displays to serve pedestrians to cross the intersection.

It is important to note that pedestrians must press the pedestrian walk button to activate the pedestrian signal and to ensure adequate crossing time.  

Pedestrians should observe and obey the pedestrian signals provided, and not the signals provided for motorists.  The “Walk” signal will be displayed for 7 seconds, followed by the flashing hand/countdown or Pedestrian Clearance phase.  The flashing hand/countdown provides adequate time to finish crossing the intersection.  

The countdown shows the pedestrian how much time left to cross the street.

The pedestrian signal provides the legal right for pedestrians to cross an intersection. However, you should still be cautious when crossing at signalized intersections and follow these suggestions::

  • Cross intersections defensively
  • Begin crossing as soon you see the walk indication
  • Do not start crossing if you are facing flashing hand and/or countdown display or solid hand display
  • When crossing the street, cross as quickly as possible. Minimize your time in the roadway
  • Always watch for turning vehicles. You have the legal right to be there, but some motorists may not see you
  • Wear bright clothing – Be Visible.  Be Seen.

Audible Pedestrian Signals are linked to the visual pedestrian displays and advise the blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind:

  • When they have the right-of-way to cross the street
  • The direction they may cross the intersection

Two audible tones are used to indicate the direction of the pedestrian right of way:

  • A cuckoo sound (accompanied by the walking person display) indicates that the pedestrian has the right of way in the north/south direction
  • A chirp sound (accompanied by the walking person display) indicates that the pedestrian has the right-of-way in the east/west direction

The pedestrian push button must be pushed and held for at least three seconds to activate the audible tones.  If the button is not held down for at least three seconds, the audible tone will not be activated even though the walking person display appears.

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Traffic Signal Timing

York Region accepts requests for timing changes and installations of traffic signals that meet our eligibility requirements.

 It is also used to modify signal timing and time of day plans when necessary. York Region is constantly working to manage congestion during the Peak and Off Peak periods.

Requesting a change or installation of a traffic light will help us:

  • Improve traffic flow and road safety
  • Decrease delays and driver frustration
  • Minimize effects on the environment

Make a Request

If you would like to request a traffic signal installation or a change in a traffic signal’s timing, please fill out our online traffic contact form.


Eligibility

Anyone can request a traffic signal installation or a change a traffic signal’s timing. Some criteria will need to be met before a request can be approved.

New Traffic Signals

For a traffic signal to be installed, at least one of the following criteria must be met:

  • The delay created by traffic must exceed a specific threshold
  • The traffic on the main road is so heavy that traffic on the side road suffers extreme delays or hazards by entering or crossing the main road
  • There is a very high collision record
  • The safety performance of the intersection is clearly improved when compared to the projected safety performance with traffic signals

Changes to Traffic Signal Timing

York Region responds to daily traffic changes, but also conducts traffic signal reviews. Timing changes are based on:

  • The number of vehicles each year
  • Changes to the road due to construction
  • New developments and accesses
  • New roads and traffic signals

Based on the results, York Region will determine whether or not a change is necessary.

Note: Traffic signal timings change depending on the time of day. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions section for more information.


Cost

This service is provided at no cost.


Frequently Asked Questions

How are Traffic Signals Timed?

York Region uses several timing plans at different hours of the day. These plans coordinate the signals to improve traffic flow. The following periods are from Monday to Friday:

  • Morning peak: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Off peak: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Late afternoon/evening peak: 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Overnight: 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Note: Timing plans on the weekends differ because traffic patterns change.

Why are Some Traffic Signals Staying Green at Night?

During the overnight period, with little demand on the side street, the green will rest on the major road.  However, when a vehicle is detected and/or a pedestrian call is received from the side street the traffic signal will serve the side street.  Should the intersection change without side street demand, this may indicate faulty detector loops and/or a stuck pedestrian button.  Please email traffic@york.ca and provide the intersection in question and it will be investigated.

How are Vehicles Detected?

Loop detectors are fixed into the pavement of side roads and left turn lanes. These detectors are especially helpful during the rush hour and overnight periods.

Why do I Have to Wait Longer on Side Roads?

To improve traffic flow, it is sometimes necessary to delay the traffic on the side roads. Studies have shown that drivers on the side roads recover from these extra delays by the time they have passed the third traffic signal on main roads.

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