Below are a few of the Frequently Asked Questions that the City's Transportation department are asked by the public. To contact the Transportation department with a different question, call 250.361.0300
I would like to change the parking on my street to residential only. How do I go about submitting this request?
Residential Parking Only (RPO) zones were created to protect residential streets bordering on heavy commercial areas from becoming congested with all day parking, (e.g. employee vehicles). A resident or visitor of any property abutting the residential parking zone, may park anywhere on the block within that zone. Residential Parking Only zones are only suitable on single family / duplex frontages.
Any resident may submit a request for a change to Residential Parking Only (RPO) using the City’s on-on-line request form. City staff will provide the resident with the attached petition form which requires canvassing of ninety percent (90%) of the block, with eighty percent (80%) approval. Upon receipt of the completed petition, staff visit the site to complete parking counts at various times of the day between 8 a.m.-10 p.m. to determine the average on-street parking occupancy.
If the average occupancy is greater than 50%, then RPO is considered warranted (there is likely a nearby retail or employment destination that is using the on-street parking to the point that it is unavailable for residents), and if less than 50%, then RPO is considered not warranted (resident should be able to find on-street parking within a reasonable time frame). Once the review is complete, staff advise the person who submitted the request of the result, and any required signage changes are implemented.
What are truncated domes?
Truncated domes are textured ground surface indicators that assist pedestrians who are visually impaired in identifying the location of safety hazards such as roadway crossings or stairs (also referred to as tactile paving or detectable warning surfaces).
How does the City determine where to put a four-way stop?
When considering intersection safety, it is important to note that the Motor Vehicle Act for BC defines every intersection as a legal crosswalk where a pedestrian has the right of way over motorists. The most important factor in pedestrian safety is pedestrian awareness. A safe crossing requires an exchange of information between the pedestrian and driver though body language and eye contact.
The City refers to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for BC for guidelines related to the installation of signs and other traffic control devices. The MUTCD lays out a warrant process for evaluating intersections for the appropriateness of multi-way stops so that it meets road users expectations and does not result in traffic issues. Studies have shown that unwarranted multi-way stops may result in poor stop compliance, increase speeds some distance from the intersection, and may decrease intersection safety.
What determines the need for a new traffic signal?
As the number of cars and people on streets and sidewalks grow beyond what a stop sign can manage, the City reviews the need to install a traffic signal. Traffic signals reduce accidents by establishing the right-of-way and providing adequate time for all users to cross the intersection, however they can also cause delays, divert traffic to other residential streets, or attract traffic to the intersection. We consider the following criteria:
- Number of vehicles and pedestrians traveling through the intersection
- Need to interrupt the major street traffic for side street vehicles and pedestrians
- Special conditions such as hills and curves
- Accident history of the intersection
- Proximity of schools or community facilities that generate increased conflicting traffic
- Amount of time per day that a traffic signal may be beneficial
- Comparison of advantages and disadvantages of installing a signal at the location
When can a pedestrian cross at a traffic signal?
When the “Walking Person” light is displayed, look in all directions and check for turning cars before entering the intersection. When the “Flashing Hand” light is displayed, complete your crossing to the other side at a normal pace. If you are not already in the crosswalk when the flashing hand is displayed, do not start to cross the street; push the button and wait for the next walk light.
Why is the duration of the pedestrian walk light so short?
The pedestrian walk light indicates when pedestrians are permitted to begin crossing. The average duration of the walk light is seven seconds. The walk light is followed by an orange hand which flashes for the time required for people with mobility challenges to cross the intersection, based on a standard set by the Transportation Association of Canada. If a pedestrian steps off the curb and begins crossing just as the hand starts flashing, there is adequate time to finish crossing. If a pedestrian starts crossing after the hand indication starts flashing, there may not be adequate time to cross safely.
Do I have to press the button many times to get a pedestrian walk light?
It is only necessary to press the button once to register the request for a walk light. Pressing the button multiple times will not make the walk light come on sooner.
Why does the time it takes to obtain a pedestrian walk light vary?
In order to minimize stops and reduce vehicle delays on high traffic corridors, many traffic signals are coordinated with adjacent traffic signals. The wait time at coordinated traffic signals depends on when the button is activated during the signal cycle and could range from a few seconds to up to more than a minute. Sometimes the button is pushed after the light is already green in the desired crossing direction and there is not enough time for the signal controller to activate the walk phase that cycle. The walk light will then come on the next cycle.
Why are there no pedestrian push buttons at some intersections?
In the downtown core, traffic signals are pre-timed with fixed timing for each roadway based on the traffic volume. These traffic signals have no pedestrian push buttons because the pedestrian walk indication is automatically displayed when the traffic signal is green.
How are bicycles and vehicles detected at traffic signals?
Typically in Victoria, bicycles and vehicles are detected at traffic signals with a wire loops under the surface of the roadway immediately behind the white stop line. . For bicycle detectors, bike stencils are placed on the roadway over the wire loops.
Are traffic signals in Victoria coordinated? Why can’t the signals be timed so that I can arrive at more green lights?
Many of the traffic signals in the City are coordinated in peak hours to minimize stops and delays. Ideal or “perfect” signal coordination is difficult to achieve due to varying traffic speeds, congestion, the distance between signals and the need to vary the amount of green time at each intersection. “Perfect” coordination for one direction of travel often results in frequent stops and delays for the other direction. When traffic volumes are relatively balanced, the traffic signals are timed so that the “reds” and “greens” are balanced in both directions. When the traffic flow is heavier in one direction, the signals are coordinated to favor the highest volume of vehicles.
What are special crosswalks?
Special crosswalks consist of overhead illuminated signs with downward lighting and pedestrian pushbutton activated amber flashers. They are installed to increase motorists’ awareness of the presence of a pedestrian by improving their visibility to approaching traffic.
What are the beeping sounds at some intersections?
Audible (beeping) sounds are installed at many pedestrian crossings throughout the City to provide assistance to visually impaired people in crossing the intersection. The City has a plan to install new audible signals each year until all the pedestrian crossings in the City have audible signals. The new installations are prioritized based on public requests, input from the Accessibility Working Group and input from the CNIB.
What do I do if all of the signal indications are blank?
When a traffic signal has gone dark due to power failure, it is considered to function the same as a four-way stop controlled intersection. A driver must stop and yield according to the four-way stop rules before entering the intersection.
Why do some traffic signals go into “flashing” operation?
Flashing red traffic signals usually indicates a malfunction. If the signal is flashing yellow it means to proceed with caution. The side street will flash red and these vehicles must stop. Some signals operate in a flashing yellow mode during the night.
Do emergency vehicles and buses have special priority over traffic signals?
Yes, in Victoria fire rescue vehicles have special equipment that instructs traffic signals to change to a specific green light sequence to allow them priority to pass through the intersection. Certain bus routes such as along Douglas Street have the ability to extend the green time to improve bus run times. Fire rescue vehicles have a higher priority than buses.
How does the City prioritize crosswalk upgrades and installation of new crosswalks?
New guidelines for evaluating and prioritizing upgrades/new crosswalk installations in the City of Victoria were adopted by City Council in 2016.
What vehicles are allowed on sidewalks, in protected bike lanes and in general purpose traffic lanes?
The chart below shows what types of motorized, electric and non-motorized vehicles are allowed in areas around the the city:
For more information:
What are some of the common signs residents and visitors will find around Victoria?
Highway and street signage is regulated by the Provincial and Federal Governments. Here is some of the common signage found around Victoria.