Crossing the street safely is one of the goals of the City’s
Transportation Services Division. The best way to do it is to use
the buttons found at Toronto intersections and follow the pedestrian
Here’s how the
buttons work. When the button is pushed, information is passed
on to the traffic signal that pedestrians
wish to cross the street and the regular programming sequence is
altered. Usually within two minutes, the walking symbol will be
displayed. At this point, it is safe for pedestrians to cross the
Since the button is
programmed to respond to pedestrian demand, if it is not pushed,
then the signal maintains its regular sequence
of allowing traffic to proceed in alternate directions. But it’s
not just the signal itself. The length of time the signal remains
in view is also important.
The province has established minimum walking times based on a
pedestrian walking speed of 1.20 meters per second. While all signals
in Toronto meet this standard, most provide additional time for
pedestrians to cross the street.
Services uses three signals for pedestrians crossing the street.
In addition to the walking person symbol,
there is the flashing helping hand and the steady halting hand.
When the walking person is no longer on the screen facing the pedestrian,
the flashing helping hand appears. That’s when the hand on
the screen flashes. It means that pedestrians already crossing
should continue to do so at a comfortable rate of speed, but those
who have not started should not do so. The steady halting hand
means don’t cross – pedestrians no longer have the
right of way.
The City also uses accessible
signals to assist pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired.
These signals are linked to visual
pedestrian signals. They advise the blind or visually impaired
when they can cross the intersection and in which direction. If
pedestrians hear a “cuckoo” sound, they can cross in
a north/south direction. A “chirp” means they can cross
in an east/west direction. Silence indicates that pedestrians should
not start crossing in any direction.
It’s all about
safety. Use the pedestrian signals to make your crossing as safe