Signs and signals: frequently asked questions

General questions

If I drive the speed limit will I get through the lights faster?

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.

Why is the light always red when I am the first to reach an intersection of a main street from a quieter side street?

These are Semi-actuated signals– 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 detected 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

Why does it seem like the length of time the light is green is different each time?

These may be Fully-actuated signals – 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

Does the City monitor changes in traffic and adjust the signal timing?

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.

Do we have audible pedestrian signals in Guelph?

Accessible audible pedestrian signals are located at various crossings throughout the City to assist pedestrians with their crossings. Pressing the pedestrian crossing button for more than 5 seconds triggers the recorded voice indicating when the walk signal is on. 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 Committee.

Why does the Flashing Don’t Walk signal begin before I’ve finished crossing even though I started across the intersection when it changed to walk?

The Flashing Don’t Walk (FDW) is to signal pedestrians reaching the intersection not to begin crossing. The FDW is always two thirds of the total crossing time. Walk/Flashing Don’t Walk time is calculated by measuring the total crossing distance and providing one metre/second crossing time. For example, if the total crossing distance is 30 metres, the FDW time is for 20 meters or 20 seconds.

All traffic signals have pedestrian signals (Walk/Flashing Don’t Walk) to inform pedestrians when they are legally permitted to cross. 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.

Frequently asked questions about Intersection Pedestrian Signals: pedestrians ask:

Why is the “Walking Person” signal light not long enough to cross the street before the flashing hand is displayed?

The “Walking Person” signal display informs pedestrians that they may begin to cross. Pedestrian right-of-way does not end when the “Walking Person” display changes to the “Flashing Hand”. The “Flashing Hand” means don’t start to cross. It continues to provide protection for pedestrians who started their crossing during the “Walking Person” display and advises the late arrivals not to begin crossing.

Why is the “Walking Person” not displayed immediately after I push the button?

Each traffic signal is pre-programmed to follow a sequence of signal displays for its intersection. When the pedestrian button is pushed, the traffic signal will provide the “Walking Person” when it next occurs in the sequence. The time it takes for the “Walking Person” to appear depends on when the pedestrian button is pushed in the signal sequence and that is why the signal lights sometimes change quickly and at other times take a little longer.

Drivers on the side street ask:

When is it my turn to go?

Drivers on the side street are governed by the STOP sign. A driver can proceed when there is an adequate gap after coming to a complete stop and yielding the right-of-way to all pedestrians and vehicles at the intersection.

How do I turn from the side street when vehicles on the main street have stopped for the Intersection Pedestrian Signals?

Drivers facing a STOP sign are required to yield to all pedestrians and vehicles at the intersection. Once you have stopped for the stop sign, check the pedestrian and vehicular traffic for a suitable gap even though the vehicles on the main street have stopped. When it is safe, proceed into the intersection carefully. When in doubt, act cautiously and allow the main street traffic to clear.

Drivers on the main street ask:

Why can’t I turn left from the main street onto the side street when the Intersection Pedestrian Signals are being used?

When the Intersection Pedestrian Signals are being used the main street displays a Red Signal. Left turns on a Red Signal are not allowed.

Why are drivers entering the main road when I have a green signal?

Drivers entering from the side street are governed by the STOP sign and are permitted to proceed after coming to a complete stop.

If you have any questions on how to use an Intersection Pedestrian Signal or require additional information, please call Operations at 519-837-5628.