The Regional Municipality Of York

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Traffic and Pedestrian Signals

York Region manages and maintains approximately 890 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 Installations and Requests

There are more than 2,000 intersections and nearly 900 traffic signals on Regional roads today. Adding a new traffic signal impacts a large transportation network and millions of travellers making important connections.  

Traffic studies, data collection and analysis determine what type of traffic control will meet the unique requirements of an intersection and the community. Traffic signals, an all-way stop, roundabout or other safety measures may be implemented based on traffic volume, pedestrian and cyclist activity, sight lines, surrounding environment and collision history.

Most often, traffic signals are installed at the Region’s highly travelled intersections to manage heavier traffic by assigning the right-of-way to motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and public transit. Traffic signals may also be installed to address sight lines or other special conditions.

York Region follows the engineering guidelines in Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, Ontario Traffic Manual Book 12. This technical manual applies best practices and consistency across Ontario municipalities. Installing a traffic signal in a location that does not align with engineering guidelines can decrease safety, cause delays or cut-through traffic and block accesses. 

Traffic signal installations include the following steps:

  • Traffic studies, data collection and policy review
  • Documentation, approvals and budgeting
  • Traffic signal design
  • Tendering
  • Construction
  • Activation

All traffic signals are designed to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a list to show where traffic signals are being installed?

Traffic signal installations are capital construction projects and listed by municipality on the Road Construction Schedule page.

How do I request traffic signals or other traffic control measures?

A request can be made by sending an email to traffic@york.ca or by using York Region’s mobile app, available for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices. Traffic studies can take up to eight weeks to complete. All requests are assigned a ticket number for tracking purposes.

How long does it take for traffic signals to be installed?

In most cases, traffic signals are operational within two to three years from the time the traffic study confirms the installation. 

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What's at an Intersection? (PDF)




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