Signs and signals

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Traffic signals

Traffic signal operation

Traffic signals operate in three manners:

Fixed Time: there are no vehicle or pedestrian detectors in operation. The signal timing is preset and shows the maximum time for all movements and pedestrian displays regardless of vehicular or pedestrian demand. Fixed time intersections are commonly found in downtown locations and where main street and side street volumes are similar.
(Example: Wellington Street East at Wyndham Street South)

Semi-actuated: there are vehicle and pedestrian detectors to cross the main street only. The signal will display green minimum time along the main street then responds to any side street actuations. An actuation may be a result of either a vehicle triggering a metal detecting loop below the asphalt or a pedestrian pushing the button. Should a vehicle only be detected, the signal will change to green a minimum of 7 seconds for the side street and extend should further vehicles be detected. The pedestrian “walk” will only be displayed by pushing the pedestrian push button.
(Example: Paisley Road at Silvercreek Parkway North)

Fully-actuated: there are vehicle and pedestrian detectors for all lanes and all crossings. The signal responds to vehicle and pedestrian demands at the intersection. The signal displays green a 10 second minimum time for each roadway and extends should further vehicles be detected, or rests in that movement until an opposing vehicle or pedestrian is detected. The pedestrian “walk” will only be displayed by pushing the pedestrian push button.
(Example: Stone Road East at Victoria Road South)

Traffic signal coordination

Traffic signal coordination is established along arterial roads to allow vehicles to pass through multiple consecutive traffic signals with a minimal amount of stops for red signals.

Approximately 75% of full traffic signals operate in coordination with adjacent traffic signals. Traffic signals are reviewed for coordination based on traffic volumes, signal spacing and posted speed. Most coordination zones operate with a balanced two-way progression strategy – meaning each direction along the roadway has a similar green time period to pass through adjacent signals.

Traffic signal coordination does not guarantee a motorist will pass through a number of adjacent signals without stopping. Factors such as signal spacing and posted speed sometimes do not allow for two-way signal coordination. In those instances, the direction with the heavier traffic volume is favoured, and opposing traffic will likely be stopped. An example of this is Wellington Street between Edinburgh Road South and Neeve Street.

Six to eight signal coordination corridors are reviewed each year in detail. These detailed reviews ensure the signal corridor is still operating as desired and adjustments to signal timings are made as required based upon updated traffic volumes.

Accessible (audible) pedestrian signals

Accessible pedestrian signals are located at various crossings throughout the City to assist pedestrians with their crossings. Presently there are over 20 traffic signals equipped with accessible pedestrian signals. Beginning in 2008, most new traffic signal installations will include accessible pedestrian signals on all crossings. Any request to add an accessible pedestrian signal at an existing location is made through the Guelph Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Pedestrian signal (walk/flashing don’t walk) operation

All traffic signals have pedestrian signals (Walk/Flashing Don’t Walk) to inform pedestrians when they are legally permitted to cross. Walk/Flashing Don’t Walk time is calculated by measuring the total crossing distance and providing one metre/second crossing time.

The Flashing Don’t Walk (FDW) is always 2/3rds of the total crossing time. (For example, if the total crossing distance is 30 metres, the flashing don’t walk time is 20 seconds.)

Countdown pedestrian signals

At some locations in the City, countdown pedestrian signals are provided to supplement the Flashing Don’t Walk information. Only the FDW time remaining is shown, as the Walk time may vary.

Regulatory signs

The sign has 'School Bus Loading Zone' with an arrow pointing towards the zone
School bus loading zones are for school buses and taxis only. By keeping these zones open for buses, we can help ensure children who use the bus can load and unload safely.

School zones

Regular enforcement of all parking bylaws is being conducted at all areas surrounding city schools. Please remember to watch for and obey the signs illustrated below. The controls have been established for the safety of all children and will be strictly enforced by the City of Guelph Parking Enforcement Officers.

Yellow pentagon sign with a boy and girl walking
This sign is erected to warn motorists of an approaching school and the presence of many children who may be crossing the roadway at any point and time.

No parking zone

Square sign with a capital P with a red circle and line through it. Black arrows point in the direction where there is no parking
The standing of a vehicle in No Parking zones is only permitted when actually engaged in loading or unloading of passengers or goods. Should you need to unload in a no parking zone, great care and caution should be used.

No stopping zone

A square white sign with a solid black octagon with a red circle and line through it. Black areas point in the direction of the no stopping zone
These signs prohibit the stopping of a vehicle for any reason. No stopping zones are implemented for the safety of your children.

Obey crossing guards and signs

Children are our community’s most vulnerable pedestrians. Please do your part to help keep kids safe.


Warm weather means more children are walking to school. Please be aware of children on sidewalks, at pedestrian crossings and in school zones. For everyone’s safety, obey school crossing guards, and comply with all posted signs in school zones and at school crossings.


Before sending your children to school, talk with them about the importance of road safety. Ask your children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street, even if cars are stopped.

Remind them to check for cars at all driveways, and to avoid running into the street. Most importantly, tell children to obey school crossing guards – they’re there to help kids cross streets safely.