Flashing Green Lights

Sat, May 6, 2017

While driving in Vancouver, we kept running into flashing green lights.  What are they trying to tell us?

It turns out they are pedestrian controlled intersections.  What?

On the roads with stop lights that cycle through red, yellow and flashing green (they are never solid green), the cross streets have stop signs, not stop lights.  The stop lights can only be triggered by a pedestrian that wants to cross the road. If that happens, the flashing green turns yellow and then red and the pedestrians can cross.

That means you can cruise for blocks without stopping so long as a pedestrian doesn’t hit the street crossing button.  I think it’s brilliant.

This systems also means that cars on the crossing streets are stuck until there’s a break in the traffic or a pedestrian hits the button.

Sometimes that can mean a long wait.  That happened to us and there were no pedestrians to hit the street crossing button.  So what to do?  The guy behind us pops out, trots over to the intersection and hits the button.  By the time he was back in his car, the light turned red for those on the main road and we were on our way.  Like I said, brilliant.

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