Traffic Rules for Pedestrian Lights

Pedestrian lights give people on foot the right of way to cross. A digital counter displays the time available to cross the street.

Pictogram and Digital Counter Meanings

Make sure you understand what the lights are indicating. Always cross with caution and pay special attention to vehicles that may be turning.

The fixed white silhouette indicates that pedestrians can cross the roadway in the corridor reserved for this purpose.

The flashing orange hand with a numerical countdown indicates that pedestrians can engage only if they are able to reach the sidewalk on the other side of the street or the safety zone before the light changes to solid orange. The pedestrian is therefore in charge of judging whether or not he or she can cross.

The flashing orange hand can appear alone, without a numerical countdown. It means that the pedestrian who has already begun to cross should hurry to the sidewalk or shoulder on the other side of the street. If the pedestrian has not already started crossing, he or she cannot engage.

When the countdown is over, the orange hand becomes fixed meaning that pedestrians can no longer engage in crossing. They must wait for the next white silhouette’s appearance.

If there is no pedestrian light, pedestrians have the right of way on the green light.

Pedestrians must cross the road in a way perpendicular to its axis. They may only cross the road diagonally if authorized by a peace officer, school crossing guard or sign.

Activating the Pedestrian Light

The call button gives pedestrians the right of way to cross safely.

To cross, simply press the call button when the traffic light is red and wait for the white silhouette of the pedestrian to appear. If you press the button while the light is green, the signal will be recorded in the next cycle. In any case, a small light confirms the registration of the pedestrian crossing request.

Calculating the Time to Cross

Crossing time is calculated by dividing the width of the street to cross by the pedestrian walking speed. This varies from 0.8 m/s to 1.3 m/s. For example, for a 12 m long crosswalk, the crossing time will be 12 s if the walking speed is 1 m/s.

Turning Right at a Red Light

Pedestrians should be particularly careful when turning right at a red light is permitted for vehicles. In this situation, before crossing, they should look left, ahead, right and then over their left shoulder to ensure that there are no vehicles about to turn on the red light.

Operating Mode for Pedestrian Lights

Pedestrian lights can operate in three modes.

In protected mode, vehicles are prohibited from moving during the entire pedestrian phase, including turning right turn at the red light.

In partially protected mode, some vehicle movements are prohibited during the first part of the pedestrian phase and then allowed afterwards. For example, the traffic light may display the green forward arrow (straight ahead) during the engagement phase of the pedestrian, and then give way to the green light allowing movement in all directions. However, turning right on a red light remains prohibited.

In unprotected mode, some vehicle movements are permitted during the pedestrian phase, including turning right at a red light.

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons

Rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) are traffic control signals used to increase the visibility of certain pedestrian crosswalks. They make the signs indicating these crosswalks more visible by drawing the attention of drivers and allow pedestrians to signal their intention to cross the road. RRFBs are installed at specific crosswalks, in places with a wider road, higher speeds or heavier traffic.

If a pedestrian crosswalk is equipped with RRFBs, it is recommended to activate them by pressing the button. Whether a pedestrian crosswalk is equipped with RRFBs or not, drivers and cyclists on the road must always yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing the road or signalling their intention to cross.

Pedestrians must adopt safe behaviour at crosswalks. They must make sure that other road users have seen them and that they yield the right of way, in particular by making visual contact with them before crossing. Cyclists must dismount and walk next to their bicycles to have the right of way at crosswalks as pedestrians do.

Last update: June 5, 2024


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