What Does a Flashing Green Light BC mean? (British Columbia)
Everyone knows that red means stop, green means go and yellow means stop as long as you safely can. The flashing green light BC, seen around beautiful British Columbia simply indicates the intersection is pedestrian-controlled. In other words, it will flash green all day long, and drivers may proceed just like any other green light until a pedestrian wants to cross. Then, things get weird.
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These are not a lot of people’s favorite types of intersections because they confuse people. When the light goes red, the cross traffic is commonly facing only a stop sign.
So, two directions are facing a stop sign, and the other two directions are facing a red light, and pedestrians are given priority; at least in theory.
I honestly think this is the silliest – and also the most unsafe – design concept for an intersection ever. I wish they weren’t a thing, but they are.
Flashing Green Lights – Other Provinces in Canada
Just to confuse everyone, different provinces in Canada may or may not be the same as beautiful British Columbia in terms of the meaning of the flashing green traffic light. We here in Canada like to always keep local and visiting drivers on their toes. Yes, that’s it.
Flashing Green Light in Alberta
Drivers facing a flashing green traffic control light are permitted to go through, turn left or turn right without stopping. Opposing traffic will be facing a red light; however a driver must still yield to pedestrians or other vehicles lawfully in the intersection.Alberta
Flashing Green Lights in Saskatchewan, Manitoba
- Flashing Green Light Saskatchewan, Manitoba – I was unable to find anything, so maybe they do not participate in this sort of nonsense there
Flashing Green Light Quebec
In Québec, a flashing green traffic light means that no cross-traffic can go, even the traffic on the same road coming from the other direction has a red light. This means that (if allowed) you can make a left turn without having to yield (except possibly to pedestrians in the cross street).Stack Exchange
Ontario Flashing Green Lights
Flashing green lights and green arrows direct drivers who are turning.Ontario
Right of Way Question at Flashing Green Light BC Intersection
Scenario: North and South have normal intersection traffic lights. East and West (this situation side street) have a stop sign. Does East-West traffic not have an obligation to still stop at a stop sign before proceeding or does East-West traffic now have the right to not stop to beat the light before North & South traffic proceed on the green light?
Right of Way Answer – Flashing Green Light BC Intersection
The short answer is no, no one has the right not to stop at a stop sign. Stop means stop. In real life, drivers sometimes recognize this intersection as an opportunity to ‘gun it’ while the light is red and may or may not stop, or even pretend to stop. Any car that does not stop at a stop sign is technically in violation of the law.
So the north/south traffic is facing a flashing green light (or a yellow/red light in the case someone has activated the pedestrian button), while the east/west traffic is facing a stop sign.
This is a very common type of intersection that we encounter in the lower mainland. Here we have Kingsway and 12th Avenue in Burnaby, but there are many intersections like this, especially along Broadway and 4th Avenue in Vancouver, along Hastings Street in Burnaby, and along many other busy streets.
These often coincide with bicycle lanes to allow cyclists an opportunity to get across busy thoroughfares safely.
Flashing Green Light BC North/South Traffic View
Kingsway and 12th Avenue, Burnaby, BC, Canada
East/West View of the Pedestrian-Controlled Intersection
The inherent purpose of having a flashing green traffic light at an intersection such as this is to give pedestrians and cyclists an opportunity they may not otherwise have to safely cross a busy street.
Legal Crosswalks Everywhere in BC
Virtually every intersection is a legal place for pedestrians to cross the road. On a typical intersection, there are four legal ‘unmarked’ pedestrian crosswalks. These are areas where drivers are legally required to yield.
Only crossing in the middle of a block, not at an intersection corner is considered jaywalking. But does this happen in real life? I am not convinced that drivers either know this or seem to care.
Besides, attempting to cross an intersection like this one in rush hour – four lanes of speeding traffic – without assistance from some type of pedestrian-activated signal, seems like it may be a tad bit suicidal, even though it may be legal.
When Pedestrians Press The Button
When pedestrians press the button, this causes the light to go red and forces the north/south traffic to stop. The vehicles facing the stop sign now have a seemingly wonderful opportunity to quickly go in whichever direction they may choose.
Of course, barring any pesky pedestrians who might be in the way. Drivers can do this without having to worry about the north/south traffic at all. This is not much more than a side-effect of engineering’s good intentions to allow pedestrians and cyclists to proceed safely across the intersection.
It was never designed to be a free ride for the drivers facing a stop sign, although yes, it seems that pedestrians are helping drivers in a reverse psychology sort of way, or something.
But hopefully, drivers are putting pedestrian safety before their own urge to get to where they’re going a little quicker. This exact same intersection, without the presence of the pedestrian-controlled light, is sometimes a lot more time-consuming, frustrating, and even stressful for many drivers.
Many drivers ask their passengers to get out of the car, go press the button, and then get back in the car while the light goes yellow for the other traffic, allowing them to get across with relative ease compared to the alternative (that may be a story for a different day).
On a side note, three (safer) right turns can sometimes be made in exchange for a left turn.
When The Light is Red
When the light is red, drivers at the stop signs sometimes seem to think they are at an imaginary green light, and right of way rules seem to proceed according to those rules drivers would follow when facing a green light, where left turns yield to straight thru traffic, left turns yield to right turns, etc.
What drivers should be doing is behaving exactly as they would any other time they are at a 2-way stop intersection since that is what this is. It may sound like a subtle difference, but there would be significant legal implications here in the event of a crash.
When The Light Goes Green Again
This is all great until the light goes green again, and the vehicles with the new flashing green light are getting ready to assume that they can go.
Of course, this is an important time to scan intersections from left to right.
Right of Way Rules
Right-of-way rules state that we must yield to any vehicle that is in any space before us, so if there are still cars in the intersection when the light goes green, legally, you must yield.
If the drivers facing the stop sign have half a brain, though, they’ll be sure to clear the intersection before the light changes to green again.
Cars Facing Stop Signs
Cars facing stop signs are required to stop, and only proceed when they know it is safe. To the unskilled or unaware driver, this can turn into a very dangerous situation if they decide to gingerly cross those 4 lanes of traffic just as the light changes to green.
Drivers facing the stop sign must be aware of how much time they have left before the light goes green.
This can be done by observing the pedestrian signal, although there may be no way to 100% guarantee the exact timing of it unless you actually get a lawn chair and sit at the side of the intersection beforehand with your stopwatch for a while. I don’t know many people who do that in their spare time other than myself, lol!
But, if you can still see the pedestrian ‘walk’ signal, then you know the light will stay red for the traffic. After the walk signal, it will normally change to a ‘flashing hand’ symbol.
Once it changes from a flashing hand to a solid or non-flashing hand symbol, then you will be pretty much out of time.
Please drive carefully and remember that pedestrians are very vulnerable; their safety should be the priority here. Don’t gamble with their safety, yours, or anyone else’s.
Read more on our blog:
- Yellow Light Uncomplicated
- Fresh Green Light, or Stale?
- Left on a Red Light in British Columbia, Can You Do It?
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