High Lights of High Street

Recently, there has been some attention on the traffic signals in the High Street area around 102 Avenue and 125 Street. To help drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians who travel through this intersection, we created a quick video to show how the signal works, with some clarification on why this traffic design was created for this location.

Here’s how the traffic signals work:

A demonstration of the signals in action. 

As you can see from the video, there are traffic lights for both the left and right lanes. The left lane signal controls when drivers intending to turn left onto 125 Street from 102 Avenue can do so safely—without coming into contact with westbound traffic, cyclists going in either direction in the bike lane, or pedestrians on the northside. Meanwhile, the right lane signal helps maintain efficient traffic flow overall through High Street.

This traffic control provides the safest possible intersection for pedestrians and cyclists, while also ensuring drivers can make a left turn to access businesses, services and homes in the community.

Why this design:

As a City, we’re committed to our goal of Vision Zero, which is our long-term goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. When designing the traffic signals for High Street, we were mindful of the high safety risk that exists when drivers turn left across two-way bike lanes and a pedestrian crosswalk. In such a scenario, drivers turning left would have to watch for oncoming vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians travelling westbound, as well as eastbound cyclists coming from behind. That’s a lot to take into account when turning left!

Rather than banning left turns altogether, which would cut off access to local businesses and residences, we installed a unique set of traffic signals—one of only a few in the Edmonton region. The evolution of this intersection has been based on our continued conversations with nearby businesses and residents. Ultimately, our shared focus has been on ensuring everyone can get to where they want to go safely on High Street. Protected bike lanes are an important part of that focus on safety, as they reduce collisions between cyclists and drivers across the downtown bike network.

We know that for some, the uniqueness of the solution is not the first thing they notice when looking at the lights on 102 Ave.

It certainly is unique that a line of vehicles waiting to turn left face a red light, while the lane beside gets a green. While this solution does not make the intersection more convenient for all drivers, it does make it safer for all users of the intersection. Yes, an intersection is a kind of automated traffic officer telling you to “go now” and “stop” and to govern movement as efficiently as possible. But an intersection is also a kind of bodily joint that tells us how flexible we are with each other, how open and adaptable we are—no matter what mode we move by—to our common and unifying desire to move safely in our city.

We are always available to listen to your questions or feedback about this or any other traffic signal system in Edmonton. Please visit our 311 online tool for questions or comments.

Thanks for reading.