The city has put a stop to traffic light cycles that combine flashing amber and red lights at Winnipeg intersections.
The change, which took effect Thursday, affects 185 intersections throughout the city, which used the flashing amber and red light signals at night, in the early morning and on weekends when traffic volumes are low.
The majority of these intersections now has a standard light cycle: solid green, amber and red phases at all hours.
Flashing yellow lights warn some directions of traffic to slow down before proceeding through an intersection, while blinking red lights direct drivers to treat the crossing like a stop sign.
The city says the change is meant to make it safer for people crossing the street, since pedestrian visual walk signs and audible crossing sounds were inactive during flashing light periods.
Coun. Shawn Nason (Transcona) called for the change a few months ago.
Nason said he grew concerned about the practice after a visually impaired resident reported feeling unsafe while walking late at night through the intersection of Plessis Road and Kernaghan Avenue, when it was in a flashing light mode.
"Hopefully, (this change) will result in the ability for pedestrians and/or active-transportation users to be able to safely cross the road at these intersections with minimal impact on the driving public," said Nason.
"I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s another step to ensure an inclusive city," he added.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) also welcomed the change, noting he expects it could also reduce safety risks for drivers.
Mayes said he’s personally driven through one set of flashing lights that suddenly switched to a solid red while his vehicle was still in the intersection of Worthington Avenue and St. Anne’s Road.
"A third of the way through the intersection, you look up (and) it’s a hard red you’re facing now because the clock has shifted to 7 o’clock (in the morning)... I altered my route in the morning because I thought, I’m going to get a ticket here or, worse, I’m going to get in a collision," said Mayes. "That dangerous situation has now been eliminated."
The flashing lights were previously meant to reduce driver delays during times when roads saw low traffic volumes.
Coun. Matt Allard, council’s public works chairperson, said he expects the safety benefits of the change will outweigh any inconvenience for drivers.
"There certainly is a trade-off there. Motorists, who in the past may have been able to (enter) the intersection at their own discretion, will have to wait for the signal to change. I think on a balance, though, if you’re considering the vulnerable road users... I think it’s the right thing to do," said Allard (St. Boniface).
The city says eight intersections with especially low traffic volumes will still have a light cycle that flashes red lights in all directions during set hours, which drivers should treat as a four-way stop.
City officials also plan to "fine-tune" overnight traffic signal patterns over the next few months, as new traffic data is collected.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.