Posts Tagged ‘intersections’

detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

If you receive construction emails from us, you might know that we’ve installed vehicle detector loops at intersections with traffic signals. But if you’re like most people, traffic lights, and their various components [what are vehicle detector loops, anyway?] are probably one of those subjects you don’t give a lot of thought to. So next time you’re waiting for that light to change, here’s a primer on vehicle detector loops, and why you’ll be glad we’re installing them as part of our projects.

To begin with, vehicle detector loops [the technical term is “inductive-loop vehicle detectors”] are flat, loose coils of wire covered in light plastic, which are buried in the asphalt under the lanes at an intersection.

In York Region, most of our vehicle detector loops are approximately 4 metres square, and extend from the pedestrian crosswalk and across the stop bar [the wide white line going across each traffic lane at intersections] for approximately 15 metres.

The point of a vehicle detector loop is to detect when vehicles are sitting at the intersection. Vehicle detector loops are able to do this through a process of magnetic induction, which results when metal objects [i.e., vehicles] are nearby. Put simply, the presence of the vehicle results in a change in the magnetic field of the loop. This change is detected by the traffic signal controller [a large box located near every signaled intersection], which in turn sends a message to the traffic signal to begin turning from red to green.

York Region owns and or maintains 848 signalized intersections [traffic lights occasionally are used in other settings such as single lanes through construction zones]. Most of York Region’s traffic loops are located on side street lanes, in left turn lanes to activate advanced left turn signals, and on rapidways to detect transit vehicles.

The Region also uses “Matrix” vehicle detection, a pole-mounted system using radar imaging, in construction zones where lanes are moved, and where it’s problematic to install traffic loops. For more information on the technology of traffic signals, check out

Ultimately, traffic loops improve the performance of an intersection, helping traffic flow by detecting you better.


navigating the rapidways

Friday, June 10th, 2016

click here to see the video -- rapidway intersections: safe journeys

Safety on the rapidway is everyone’s responsibility, and at vivaNext, we take it seriously. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at an important topic in a light hearted way. You’ll need to watch our latest safety video to fully understand what we mean, but one thing is certain: you’ll be able to relate to one of our four travellers as they navigate our roads with Viva rapidways.

Motorist Molly, for example, needs to get to her mid-block destination, but gets stuck waiting for a left turn signal. What could be causing the problem?

Cyclist Cedric also has a turning concern while on the move. When travelling on dedicated bike lanes, making a left turn can be tricky business. Must he merge into dangerous traffic to get to the left turn traffic lane? Or is there an easier way?

Pedestrian Percy and his grandfather need to be fully aware of their surroundings when crossing the street, whether it’s to the vivastation in the centre lanes, or continuing to the other side.

However you get around, it’s important to understand what everyone else is doing to make sure your journey is a safe one. Watch the video, get to know the new surroundings, and take care when you’re travelling. Davis Drive and Highway 7 now have new ways to navigate, and there’s more to come!


how to pull a U-ee on Highway 7 West and Davis Drive

Friday, September 18th, 2015

With rapidway construction progressing along Highway 7 West and on Davis Drive, the way the intersections work is changing – especially if you’re turning left or want to make a U-turn. Here’s a primer on how to use the intersections with the new configuration:

Dedicated lefts and U-turns: These intersections will now have a dedicated left-turn traffic signal. This means that drivers can make left turns or U-turns only during the left-turn signal.

To reach driveways mid-block: To get to entrances that are between intersections, on the opposite side of the road, drivers should make a U-turn at the next signalled intersection.

Why? Once the rapidway is in, drivers can’t cross it in the middle of a block. Making a left at an intersection is safer than cutting across multiple lanes of traffic, and ensures that drivers trying to turn left get their turn, and don’t have to rush through a yellow.

Right turns: Curb-side lanes will be shared by right-turning and straight-through traffic.

Pedestrians: Now that intersections are wider with new signals, pedestrians may need to cross Davis Drive or Highway 7 in two stages.

  • Be sure to press the “walk” button, or the signal will be timed for cars only.
  • Only cross while “walk” is displayed.
  • As you cross, a countdown signal will show how many seconds you have left to safely cross the street.

Watch the video, which shows how traffic works in the new configuration.

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