Traffic Signal at Georgia and Seymour

Image009.jpgKnow what this is?

That’s right, a traffic light. With a big oversized green arrow at the bottom. At what I’ve long considered one of the most chaotic intersections in downtown, the corner of Seymour and Georgia.

For those not in the know, this is the corner where Highway 99 northbound takes a sharp turn leftward to make its way down Georgia toward the Lion’s Gate Bridge. What this means is that almost half the traffic turning left at the intersection was always simply “passing through” — on the way from Washngton State to Whistler, or the airport to the North Shore, or what have you.

Unfortunately, this corner also marks one of the heaviest foot traffic routes from southern downtown to the Granville St SkyTrain station, and usually hails a mob of pedestrians standing in front of the Scotiabank Tower every morning waiting to cross toward The Bay.

And what was the city’s previous strategy for making sure these two groups didn’t collide?
1. When the northbound light initially turns green, pedestrians have a Don’t Walk sign, and after about half the duration of this Don’t Walk period, the first car in the left turn lane finally realizes it has sort of an implicit right of way, and guns it into the intersection.
2. After about a 15 second delay, the pedestrian signal changes to Walk, so with no indication or warning whatsoever to the long line of cars squealing their way around the corner while the light is still green, all the pedestrians in the sidewalk inexplicably step into the street all at once, causing the turning cars and trucks to come squealing to a halt, lest they mow someone down.

But what’s this? A green arrow to indicate to the cars when it’s safe to turn? And it actually turns yellow as a warning before the pedestrians enter the intersection?

You mean it was this easy?

6 Comments so far

  1. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 9:14 am

    I think you forgot the most dangerous part of the whole thing, the fact that upon the cars being given a green light at least 25% of pedestrians start walking out into traffic even though they don’t have the right of way.

    The same thing happens on Seymour and Robson.

  2. Jackdaw (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    It’s because no consistancy exists, either for pedestrians or drivers. The whole road system in Vancouver is an utter mess. They ought to adopt international standards instead of making up random ones.

  3. Rebecca (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

    I’m for all-way pedestrian signals. Cars go, people go, cars go, people go. Tada.

  4. Ron (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 1:43 pm

    Finally – I think they installed the same some time ago at Georgia and Hornby. Is there also a right turn arrow as well?
    Mind you, at the Seymour intersection, people tend to obey the lights more than at Howe and Georgia, where there is also an advance right turn (to prevent grdilock down the block at Georgia and Hornby).

  5. Ghosty (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 5:45 pm

    International standards? I think we have troubles enough with Canadian “standards” have you ever seen people from Toronto at a pedestrian controlled intersection (blinking green light)?

    Well a blinking green light at some intersections in TO (maybe also elsewhere) is a left turn signal. Here we have the arrows.

  6. S (unregistered) on January 26th, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

    Here in Vancouver, cops will actually pull over pedestrians for jaywalking.

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