About traffic signals

There is one intersection through which I drive two mornings every week. There is advanced green north and southbound, and special left turn lanes with separate lights, east and westbound. I’m going west turning south, and I am wondering what is up with those going south and turning east.

Drivers enter the intersection (illegally) from a standing start on the orange. Some enter on the red. You can flash headlights, honk, give the finger, but they do this. Day after day, week after week.

The city of Mississauga’s response to this is to make the all-ways-red last longer. So even more drivers find they can enter the light on the red, and they do so.

So here is dumb question number one: Why does Mississauga not put a red light camera, plus prominent signs, on this intersection? The fines would pay for the equipment in a month. If the light isn’t long enough, change it, but don’t keep extending the delayed red.

Dumb question number two is about pedestrian walk signs. We are all aware of the countdown timer on many of them now; I use this to foretell whether I can make the light or not; it’s very convenient.

However some of these signals some of the time go down to zero and back to a white walk sign. Sometimes this seems to happen when there is oncoming traffic, but I don’t see “sensor cuts” in the roadway that far back. Sometimes this happens when there is traffic waiting to turn, needing the light to change. They watch the countdown go to zero and then reset.

Why is this done?

Dumb question number three is also about pedestrian walk signs. If no person presses the button, no walk signal is ever generated. Thus there is no countdown either, and a pedestrian determined to use the light has no idea how long it has to run (unless of course you saw the previous change and are counting down in your head).

Why do we need a button press to get a walk sign, followed by a countdown to don’t walk?

It seems that, in the last two cases, the traffic signals have been made more complex than they need to be.  Why? Who benefits?

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