Traffic and Pedestrian Signals

Types of Traffic Signals

  • Signalized Intersections
  • Signalized Pedestrian Crossings
  • Pedestrian Crossovers

Ministry of Transportation Pedestrian Safety Information

Pedestrian Crossovers (PXOs)

Pedestrian crossovers (PXOs) are intended for low to moderate volume, low speed roadways (60 kilometres per hour or less posted speed) and must not be used where the road volume exceeds 35,000 annual average daily traffic (AADT). PXOs should not be installed at sites where there are heavy volumes of turning traffic or where there are more than four lanes of two-way traffic or three lanes of one-way traffic. PXOs should not be within 200 metres of other signal-protected pedestrian crossings. Parking and other sight obstructions should be prohibited within at least 30 metres of the crossings. Regulation 615 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) covers most aspects of required PXO traffic control devices and their placement.

New PXO information for Richmond Street and Chilver Road.

Traffic Signal Features and Operations

What does flashing red/amber mean? When all the lights at an intersection are flashing red, the intersection is to be treated like an all-way stop. Vehicles in this operation must yield to pedestrians. In some situations, where a higher volume and a much lower volume road intersect, the lower volume approach may flash red while the higher volume approach flashes amber. In this situation, drivers with the flashing amber have the right of way; however, they must always proceed with caution and be prepared to stop. Drivers with the flashing red must stop and wait for a gap in traffic. Pedestrians crossing with the flashing amber have the right of way. The City of Windsor typically utilizes flashing all red to avoid confusion for those approaching on the lower volume roads. Often drivers assume that all directions are flashing the same colour and do not realize the opposing direction may not stop. For this reason, in Windsor it will flash red in all directions unless directed otherwise. Drivers must take precautions and assess each intersection while driving.

Modes of Control

Signals typically operate in one of a few different modes of control.

Fixed Time - No detection at the intersection and every cycle the signal will provide time for both the main street and the side street. In Windsor, there are still a number of signals that operate on fixed time.

Actuated - Detection is provided for those movements not associated with main street traffic, for example, side streets, advance left turns. Most of Windsor's traffic signals have detection.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)

Accessible pedestrian signals are linked to the visual pedestrian signals. The APS advises the blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind when they have the right of way to cross the street at a signalized intersection and in which direction they may cross the intersection.

Typical APS systems utilize either the cuckoo/chirp audible tones, or a verbal enunciation for the active crossing. The City of Windsor utilizes the verbal enunciation for APS systems.

To activate the audible pedestrian signal, a pedestrian must push and hold the button for at least three seconds. If the button is not held down for at least three seconds, the audible sound will not be activated even though the walk display appears.

Some signals are equipped with left-turn green arrow phases. During this phase, the visual walk is displayed on the non-conflicting side. The audible tones will not come on until the left-turn phase has ended and both visual walk displays are on. This is to avoid pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired mistaking the audible tone on the non-conflicting side for the conflicting side.

In addition to the verbal annunciation sounds, signals are equipped with a continuous tone called a "locator tone." This tone is emitted from the pushbuttons to assist pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired in locating the pushbuttons. Pushbuttons are equipped with a raised arrow that points in the direction of travel. This arrow vibrates when the APS sounds are activated.

The APS sounds and locator tones automatically adjust to ambient sound levels. Therefore, during peak traffic conditions, they may sound louder; overnight they drop to their lowest volume level.

Left Turn Signals (Protected/Permissive)

The City is using both protected / permissive and protected left-turn signals. Examples of protected / permissive installations include the intersection of Tecumseh Road East and McDougall Street where left turns are permitted both when the advance arrow is active and when the green thru movement is permitted, where there is a gap in oncoming traffic. An example of protected-only left turn signals is at the intersection of Walker Road and Tecumseh Road East where left turns are only allowed when the advance arrow is active.

Criteria for left-turn phasing include an exclusive left turn lane, vehicle volumes, traffic delay and collision experience. Any time allocated to left-turn arrow operation must be taken away from the green time allocated to through traffic movements and can thus produce unwanted additional delays for other motorists and pedestrians. Therefore, left-turn arrows are not suitable for every location and where they are installed, the left-turn signal timing has to fit into the coordination of adjacent traffic signals.

Pedestrian Countdown Timers

Pedestrian countdown timers are typically not used within the city; however, there are a few locations where testing has begun with this type of system. The benefit of the countdown timers is to notify pedestrians of the remaining time available for crossing so they can make decisions on when to leave the curb. An unintended negative consequence to using countdown timers is vehicle racing. Drivers view the countdown and often race to get through the green.

Bicycle Signals

The City will be implementing bicycle signals in the future where multi-use trails or off-road cycle tracks cross at signalized intersections. On-road bicycle facility users should follow the standard traffic signals. When these new signals are activated, additional information will be provided.

Signal Timing

In the city, signals are timed in one of the following ways.

  • Coordinated - When there are a number of signals within short distances from each other, often the signals will be coordinated. This is done using a consistent cycle length, similar green lengths on the main street thru movement and using offsets between the signals. An example of this is on Wyandotte Street East from Lauzon Road to Ouellette Avenue. Coordination is often based on the time of day and traffic patterns. In the case of Wyandotte Street East, westbound coordination is given the priority in the morning, and eastbound coordination is given the priority in the afternoon.
  • Adaptive Controlled - A number of corridors in the city are controlled using an adaptive signal timing software. These corridors have a base coordinated signal timing plan set up, and then the software modifies the signals each cycle to accommodate as best as possible, any heavily used movements by taking away from less used movements. Currently, there are three main arterials running the adaptive timing, and this is growing.
  • Limitations - On major arterial corridors where there are few pedestrians walking across the side streets, in order to allow for more time to be given to the main street green, minimum green times for the side streets are often less then what is required for a pedestrian to cross the road. When a pedestrian activates the pushbutton, additional time is given to the side street to allow for safe crossing of the pedestrian. This time is taken out of the main street green, and therefore coordination is interrupted. This can often affect more than one cycle as the system attempts to re-coordinate.

Additionally, when a fire truck or rail pre-emption is activated, this will interrupt the system coordination.

Traffic Operations Division
1269 Mercer Street
Windsor, Ontario
N8X 0A9
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., holidays excepted.

Phone: For general information, call 311. For detailed inquiries, call (519) 255-6293.