Pedestrian Countdown Signals

The City of Toronto's Transportation Services Division has installed "countdown" signals at more than 2,100 intersections in the city to assist pedestrians in crossing the street.

The devices provide a numeric count down display that indicates the number of seconds remaining for a pedestrian to complete their crossing of a street. The countdown counts the length of time between the current “walk” signal and the solid “don’t walk” signal which gives more precise information to the pedestrian than the current system.

Here is some more information about pedestrian countdown signals:

Will these devices be replacing the flashing don’t walk signal?
The City has actively retrofitted existing traffic control systems with pedestrian countdown signals as part of the City-wide Light Emitting Diode (LED) traffic signal conversion program.  In addition, all new traffic control signal installations are equipped with pedestrian countdown signals.

The installation of these devices will provide pedestrians with more information to assist them with a safer passage across the street. The timer is not intended to replace the flashing "Don't Walk" display - it is an auxiliary device that complements the flashing "Don't Walk" display.

The timer provides a numeric count down display that indicates the number of seconds remaining for a pedestrian to complete the crossing. The timer starts counting at the beginning of the pedestrian flashing "Don't Walk" display and finishes counting (i.e. a "zero" display is shown) at the end of the pedestrian flashing "Don't Walk" display. There is no countdown display during the pedestrian "Walk" or solid "Don't Walk" displays.

The initial countdown display value is dependent on the length of the crosswalk. Therefore, the display value can vary from crossing to crossing at a particular intersection or from intersection to intersection. For example, the initial countdown display value can be 12 for the east-west pedestrian crossing and 17 for the north-south pedestrian crossing at the same intersection. Another intersection can have the initial countdown display value of 20 for the east-west pedestrian crossing and 14 for the north-south pedestrian crossing.

How much does it cost to install pedestrian countdown signals?
The typical cost to install a full compliment of pedestrian countdown signals at a new signalized intersection is approximately $2,500. The typical cost to install countdown signals at a signalized intersection, which is already equipped with a LED pedestrian displays, is approximately $3,500. However, when countdown signals are installed as part of the City's LED conversion program, costs are greatly reduced and the installation of countdown signals effectively results in no additional cost to the program. The reason for the savings is that the countdown signal uses the lower section of the existing two-section pedestrian head. The installation of the countdown signal eliminates the need to remove the lower section that is not required when the single section LED pedestrian head is used. This avoids the considerable labour required to remove the existing displays, adjust mounting and wiring and install single section displays.

Has the widespread installation of pedestrian countdown signals reduced pedestrian injuries or red light running?
The installation of countdown timers is just one initiative aimed at making Toronto more pedestrian friendly and the initiative has been endorsed by the City’s Pedestrian Committee. Pedestrian countdown signals provide more precise information to pedestrians about the remaining time available for them to cross the street.

Countdown timers are designed to provide supplemental information to pedestrians to aid in crossing during the “flashing Don’t Walk” indication. They are not designed to provide motorists with information related to the amount of green time remaining or to address vehicular red light running violations.

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