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Ontario flashing green

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  • Brent Hooton
    Hey, gang! I don t know how many of you heard this over the weekend, so I m entering it in from the Toronto Star. While I m disappointed in the disappearance
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 9, 2001
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      Hey, gang! I don't know how many of you heard this
      over the weekend, so I'm entering it in from the
      Toronto Star. While I'm disappointed in the
      disappearance of an Ontario institution, the only
      reason I'm surprised is that it took so long!

      ================

      Look out, the traffic lights are changing
      -------
      Green arrow replaces flashing green as city switches
      to North American standard
      -------
      By Bruce DeMara
      (Toronto Star, Saturday, September 8, 2001, p. A3)

      In Toronto, the green arrow has the green light while
      the flashing green is starting to yield.

      Traffic signals across Toronto are making the switch
      -- ever so slowly -- from the "flashing green ball" to
      the green arrow to avoid confusion and to join the
      other cities and towns across the continent.

      "Basically, the green arrow is the North American
      standard," said Bruce Zvaniga, the city's manager of
      urban traffic control systems. "Really, it is only
      Toronto and some southern Ontario cities (that) are
      the only ones that are using the flashing green ball."

      Toronto has had the flashing green signals -- which
      indicate drivers can turn left unimpeded by oncoming
      traffic -- in place for decades.

      But two years ago the provincial transportation
      ministry and Ontario municipalities rewrote their
      guidelines.

      "At that time, it was decided that the flashing green
      would be phased out. It would take a number of years
      because of the cost of replacing them," Zvaniga said.

      David Kauffman, the city's director of transportation,
      said there's also a safety issue involved in making
      the switchover to green arrows, especially for
      tourists.

      "It's for safety reasons. For a lot of visitors to
      our city, when they see the flashing green, they don't
      know what it means," he said.

      Zvaniga said the flashing green is used in other
      localities but doesn't mean the same thing as here,
      causing some confusion.

      In Vancouver, for example, the flashing green is
      actually a signal to pedestrians that side streets
      near the intersection are controlled by the traffic
      light, he said.

      Toronto has 550 intersections that still use the
      flashing green and 120 that have made the switch to
      green arrows.

      The signals are being replaced at a rate of 15 to 20 a
      year because it costs $5,000 to $10,000 an
      intersection. [Ed. note: Hmmmm... guess they'll be
      around longer than the article suggests. It'll be
      over 25-30 years at that rate!]

      "We're trying to concentrate on doing the boundary
      roads first because Peel and York Regions have many
      more green arrows than we do," Zvaniga said.

      Kaufman said the department was initially reluctant to
      change signals because the flashing green can be used
      at intersections to indicate vehicles may turn left or
      go straight ahead while the green arrows obviously
      have "less flexibility."

      [Ed. note: Why?? This statement was the last one of
      the article, and makes no sense. A 4-lens signal head
      works exactly the same way as a 3-lens signal with
      flashing green. Indeed, 4-lens signals allow for
      *more* flexibility: flashing green allows for advance
      left turns in one direction only, whereas with arrows
      you can have both directions turning left at once.]

      -Brent

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    • Vikram Ravindran
      ... Yes, I ve heard enough horror stories about eager Ontarians doing a left turn in B.C. upon seeing that flashing green, only to wonder why an oncoming car
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 9, 2001
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        On Sun, 9 Sep 2001, Brent Hooton wrote:

        > In Vancouver, for example, the flashing green is
        > actually a signal to pedestrians that side streets
        > near the intersection are controlled by the traffic
        > light, he said.

        Yes, I've heard enough horror stories about eager Ontarians doing a left
        turn in B.C. upon seeing that flashing green, only to wonder why an
        oncoming car proceeded to broadside them.

        Although, I must admit that as a Toronto pedestrian, I sort of like the
        flashing green signals instead of the green arrow. Due to the fact that so
        many pedestrian signals seem to be broken or malfunctioning, many
        pedestrians take a quick look at the green traffic lights instead. When
        the green light flashes, it catches your attention and warns you "Uh-oh,
        don't cross here!" On the other hand, the green light/green arrow combo is
        less eye-catching, and you have to look at it directly to figure out
        what's going on. I'm far more used to seeing the flashing green lights
        (the article makes it almost sound as if they only use them in Toronto,
        although I know they use them in many other Ontario cities as well). As a
        driver, I understand them instantly, but as a pedestrian, I have to think
        about them for a second. :-)

        Vikram Ravindran
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