The City of Thunder Bay monitors the City’s intersections to detect changes in traffic volumes and adjusts signal times if it’s required. We have 107 traffic signals, four are pedestrian activated.

Pedestrian walk signalWalk

The walk symbol will appear for a minimum of 7 to 10 seconds, followed by the flashing don't walk for 15-30 seconds, depending on the intersection.

Pedestrians have right-of-way

During the walk symbol, pedestrians have the right-of-way to begin crossing the intersection on the crosswalk. If the walk symbol starts flashing, keep walking. You still have the right-of-way and should still cross.

Don’t walk

Do not enter the intersection if the don't walk symbol is lit up, either flashing or solid.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) help traditional traffic control signals by assisting pedestrians with vision loss when they're crossing the road. You can activate the APS by holding the crossing signal button for 4 or more seconds. 

APS sounds

APS gives distinct noises for each direction of travel when it is safe to cross. The APS indicators are a "cuckoo" sound in the north-south direction and a "chirp" sound in the east-west direction. Some installations feature a "Canadian Melody" sound that includes multiple frequencies with higher harmonics.

 APS locations
We now have 27 intersections equipped with APS:
  • Academy Rd. & Balmoral St. crosswalk
  • Algoma St. & Bay St.
  • Algoma St. & Camelot St.*
  • Algoma St. & John St.*
  • Algoma St. & Red River Rd.
  • Arthur St. & Edward St.
  • Arthur St. & James St.
  • Cumberland St. & Camelot St.
  • Dawson Rd. & Strand Ave.
  • Fort William Rd. & Isabel St.*
  • Frederica St. & Brown St.
  • Golf Links Rd. & Riviera Dr.**
  • Harbour Expressway & Fort William Rd.*
  • John St. & Junot Ave.*
  • May St. & Donald St.
  • Memorial Ave. & 11th St.*
  • Memorial Ave. & Isabel St.*
  • Miles St. E. between Syndicate Ave. N. & Brodie St. N. (consolidated courthouse)**
  • Oliver Rd. & Lakehead University Fieldhouse*
  • Red River Rd. & Cumberland St.*
  • Red River Rd. & Junot Ave.
  • Red River Rd. & Pine St.*
  • Red River Rd. mid-block crosswalk (between Court St. and Cumberland St. at Canada Trust Square)
  • River St. & Madeline St.
  • Valley St. & Strand Ave.**
  • Vickers St. N. & Miles St. E.*
  • Victoria Ave. E. & Vickers St.**

Locations of Canadian Melody are indicated in the list below with a single asterisk (*). New installations with locator tones and vibro-tactile indicators are noted below with two asterisks (**).

Traffic signal questions and answers

How are traffic signals timed?

We use up-to-date traffic counts taken at each signalized location. This data allows us to decide how much time to give to each phase of a traffic signal. The purpose is to move the greatest number of vehicles through an intersection as safely as possible.

Traffic signal phases and cycles

A phase is the part of the traffic cycle when one or more traffic signals show a green signal at the same time. A cycle can last between 60 and 140 seconds. 

How do I know when it's safe to cross?
You can cross the roadway when the walk symbol appears in the direction you are crossing. When a solid or flashing don't walk is displayed, you should not enter the roadway.
Why is the walk symbol so short?
The walk symbol lets you know that it is safe to start crossing the roadway. The walk symbol will stay on for a minimum of seven seconds, followed by the flashing don't walk (FDW) signal. This will show long enough for a person to cross the entire length of the crossing. When you see the FDW signal, you may continue crossing but should not enter the roadway.
What are Countdown Pedestrian Signals?
Countdown Pedestrian Signals show the time remaining for a pedestrian to complete their crossing in seconds.
Why do some intersections have advance left-turn arrows and some don't?

We provide dedicated left-turn phases if there are large delays for vehicles trying to turn left, or there has been a larger number of collisions that involve left-turning vehicles. Our City's Engineering & Operations Division determines this information from gathering data and statistics.

Why does the traffic signal change, when no vehicles are there?

Most of the City's intersections can detect vehicles. If a detection unit malfunctions or needs repair, the signal will change periodically to show a green signal during the phase where the detector is not working. In intersections where there is no vehicle or pedestrian detection, the signals will regularly cycle.

The City currently uses four types of vehicle detection:

  • Magnetic loops
  • Magnetic "pucks"
  • Microwave detection
  • Video detection
Why do I have to wait so long for the light to change?
Each part of a traffic signal's cycle length has a minimum amount of time for each phase. Each intersection consists of a major and minor street. The major street will use all of its dedicated time, even when a vehicle isn't there. The traffic signal will change to green on the minor street when a vehicle is detected. It then gives the necessary amount of green time up to the maximum allowed. Any green time that isn't used on the minor street will be given to the major street.
Why can't all the lights be green at once down a roadway?

On roadways where signals are close together, we coordinate between traffic signals. Many factors go into making traffic signals work together, such as:

  • Traffic volumes on all parts of the intersection
  • Distance between signals
  • Operating speed
  • Width of the intersection

The City constantly monitors and makes adjustments to signal time to allow for better movement of traffic.

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