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reydesef in canadian_yank

Here is my "Gee, Canada sure is neat" question:

Im driving, desperately trying to convert miles to kilometres in my puttering '89 Subaru while navigating Vancouver. I pass an intersection to a BLINKING green light...

alas, we do not have these in my South-of-the-border homeland. What, pray tell, does a blinking green light mean?

Comments

That confused the living hell out of me too. I've since found out that it means a protected left turn. Evidently the friendly, straightforward green arrows are not good enough; they have to confuse the foreigners instead. :)
yeah, the first time it happened, I sat in wonder at it (for small things amuse me) and pissed off lots of people behind me.
Those are pedestrian corridors. It's not a true intersection, but one where if someone pushes the crosswalk button, the light will turn yellow and red.
Weird, maybe that's a western thing. In Ontario, they're definitely the equvalent of a green arrow.
Nova Scotia also.
and Quebec

And I'm in Ontario

They're not the same as green arrows, but the results of green arrows occurs so people think they are.

It's called an advanced green. Arrows let people make left turns on both sides (usually, since they won't crash into each other) and no one else can move forward. Advanced greens occur in high traffic areas, often where there is more traffic coming one way than the other (it is not unheard of that the advanced green will be on one side of the intersection at one time of day and the other side at another). Often it helps traffic flow into higher profile areas, like a highway or a parkway- though sometimes a simple commercial street!

If you really watch (I was helping someone sell flowers, this is not a hobby) you can see that the advanced green lets the people who have to turn left onto the parkway (for this example, and what I saw) and those turning right go. At the same time, there are many more people going down the same side as the left turners so they get to go through straight. Once the advanced green is done, it goes to just green. Both sides are going through and the left hand turners for the less popular street are lining up. After a minute or so, the green lights stop, the new left turners for the less popular street go through. Then it's all yellow...

And it switches for opposing traffic, back to the system everyone is familiar with.

You see them more in bigger cities and they actually work. I was watching Woodroffe and Richmond intersection but I have been through that intersection as a passenger and a student driver, and really, despite the extra flow of traffic of people from the tech sector to other areas of the city (why they have such high flow) you wait at that intersection for the same amount of time as any other side in the intersection. It really evens things out.

Oh, and the books are pretty cheap here if you want to check out other differences, review laws and stuff (in Ontario, they are really cracking down-my father didn't do anything dangerous or different and he was sent to traffic school). An online version is also on the Ministry of Transportation website in Ontario, and soem other provinces.

Re: And I'm in Ontario

Yeah, it sounds pretty much like when you have a regular green light combined with a green left arrow for one side, so everybody on that side gets to go but the other side still has a red, and then everything goes to regular green.

Re: And I'm in Ontario

It just saves on lights. Easier to program. Also, not all arrows in Ontario are combined with a green light, hence the advanced green.

Re: And I'm in Ontario

Also, I think a large part of it is what you are use to. I am use to the arrows meaning there is allowance for turns but there's still traffic going in so many directions. I see an advanced green, I know I am on the only side who has that, whereas it's not that way with many of the other signals. When I have an advanced green, I cheat: I only look both ways quickly to make sure no one is running the red light. Without that signal, I am doing a lot more watching and predicting what other drivers are doing at the intersection.
As has been collectively explained, the flashing-green signal mode is not standardised across all provinces and territories. In Ontario, for instance, it is an advance green, same as a steady green ball plus green turn arrow(s). In BC, on the other hand, it is a "pedestrian green".

Because these signals are nonstandard, they are being phased out in favour of standardised signal modes. The Toronto area is rapidly replacing flashing green modes with green-ball-plus-green-arrow. This constitutes a significant reduction in traffic signal ambiguity, and is already helping to improve traffic flow (once people used to waiting for flashing greens at intersections they've used for years become accustomed to the new signals!)

They've even managed to preserve some uniqueness to the signals even after decommissioning the flashing green mode: The turn arrows are multicolour single-head units. Rather than a green arrow mounted under a separate yellow and/or red arrow, a single LED-equipped head indicates the turn direction first in green, then in yellow. Whether this is a good or a bad idea is being debated, but it's certainly unique.

As far as kilometre/mile conversions, there's no need for quick maths. All you have to do is memorise a short list of key approximations and you can closely estimate speed and distance conversions:

100 km : 60 miles

80 km : 50 miles

70 km : 45 miles

60 km: 40 miles

50 km : 30 miles

40 km : 25 miles

A helpful anchor point for temperature is 20°C = 68°F.

Next project: Work on adding the missing "u" to words like "labor" and "neighbor" and "color", practise(!) spelling "centre" correctly, mind the difference between a gauge ("meter") and a unit of length ("metre"), and start replacing Zs ("zeds") with Ss in words ending in -ise or -isation...eh!
They've even managed to preserve some uniqueness to the signals even after decommissioning the flashing green mode: The turn arrows are multicolour single-head units. Rather than a green arrow mounted under a separate yellow and/or red arrow, a single LED-equipped head indicates the turn direction first in green, then in yellow. Whether this is a good or a bad idea is being debated, but it's certainly unique.

Is it really? I've seen those around for so many years (at least 5) that I just don't think of them as such.
Yep, it really is. Such single-head, multicolour units aren't in the Canadian equivalent of the US Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), nor in the US book itself. There's been some protest from the colourblind community about them.
In the Canadian ones I've seen, there's no red. So considering they can theoretically still move forward on yellow, so long as there is a delay between the turning off of the arrow and the green for the opposing traffic it's not ideal but easily workable.
Being from South Carolina, when I first moved to Toronto and saw those lights I freaked out. I had no idea what they were for, but luckily my husband is from here so he sets me straight when I get confused. :) It took me a long time to get used to the lights being on poles on the sides of the road instead of on lines over the roads. And I still have a problem with the conversions! :P