Traffic Signals & Roundabouts
See where we install traffic signals and roundabouts around the city.
Traffic signals are installed where vehicle traffic and pedestrian volumes are too heavy, or the intersection is too complex for a two or four-way stop. Traffic signals can improve traffic flow and road safety.
To request a new traffic signal or changes to an existing one, use our online Report a Problem service.
New Traffic Signals
When we are deciding where to install a new signal, we consider:
- Collision history: The number of collisions in the past 3 years that could have been prevented by a traffic signal
- Traffic volume: The total number of vehicles moving through the intersection on both the major and minor street
- Delay to crossing traffic: How long vehicles and pedestrians on the minor street are delayed when trying to cross or enter the major street
We collect traffic volume data at intersections during peak hours to use in our analysis. Additionally, the claims data managed by ICBC is used to review the collision history.
Funding of New Traffic Signals
One way we fund traffic signals is through the City’s Capital Construction Program. Once we've determined that a traffic signal should be installed, we add the location to our priority list and assign it to a package of multiple intersections to be designed. It takes about one year from the beginning of the design process to begin construction.
Another way traffic signals are funded is through Land Development. When there is property development large enough that impacts traffic volumes on our road networks, the developer is responsible for funding traffic signals to improve safety and efficiency.
Left Turn Arrows
Left turn arrows reduce wait time for drivers turning left, but increase waiting time for other drivers. When we are deciding where to install a left-turn arrow, we consider:
- Collision history: The number of collisions in the past 2 years that could have been prevented by a left turn arrow
- Left-turning traffic: The amount of traffic making the left turn
- Left-turn capacity: The difficulty or amount of time it takes to make the left turn. We look at things like how long the light is green and how much oncoming traffic there is.
For more information on left turn arrow signals in Surrey, see our Fully-Protected Left Turns page.
Signal Timing & Coordination
On most of our major roads, we design and operate coordinated traffic signal systems – synchronized traffic lights allowing motorists to drive through multiple intersections without stopping. Priority for coordinated signals is normally given to the rush-hour direction of traffic.
We have more than 20 groups of coordinated traffic signals in Surrey. We group traffic signals, minimum of 2 and up to 50+ lights together where possible, to help improve traffic flow and the road network capacity. Traffic coordination also helps safety and reduces pollution, because drivers don't need to slow down and speed up so often.
Although there are clear benefits to traffic signal coordination, there are some limitations that reduce their effectiveness. Many things vary from intersection to intersection and sometimes these differences make it impossible to smoothly flow through a corridor. Factors like vehicle and pedestrian volumes, traffic signal phasing (left turn arrows), speed limits, and distances between intersections can be such that neither direction of traffic can move unimpeded through a corridor.
Additionally, some of our busiest intersections operate over-capacity during peak hours – this means that there are more cars trying to move through an intersection at the same time than the physical space can allow. Since not all the vehicles in the queue would be able to clear the intersection during one cycle, there will continue to be a build-up of traffic until the demand of vehicles subsides.
Traffic signals in Surrey have detectors for every permitted movement. This means any vehicle facing a red light can use a detector to trigger a green light. In most cases, when there isn’t any traffic the vehicle signal stays green facing the major street.
There are a couple of different ways we detect vehicles at intersections:
- Inductance loops: These are wires installed in the pavement near the stop line that act like a magnet. When a car drives over it, the magnetic field changes and tells the traffic signal that a car is there. This is the most common type of detection we have at intersections – you may have seen black circles near the stop lines.
- Video cameras: On some of our signal poles, we have cameras that aim towards the stop line to see if there are any waiting vehicles. The camera sensors use imaging technology to determine if a vehicle is in the defined detection zone and will tell the traffic signal that a car is waiting to cross.
In left turn lanes, the layout of the detector loops requires multiple vehicles, approximately three or more, to be in the detection zone simultaneously to activate the sensors.
If there's a problem with a detector, the signal stays green, just to make sure that anybody waiting gets a turn to go. This is common at intersections with construction when pavement has been cut.
Pedestrian Timing & Detection
We follow internationally recognized traffic signal guidelines when determining the pedestrian “Walk” and flashing “Don’t Walk” times at an intersection.
- “Walk” Interval: intended to provide pedestrians with enough time to perceive the indication and enter the roadway to begin crossing – not to complete the entire crossing.
- Flashing “Don’t Walk” Interval: provides adequate time for an average pedestrian to complete crossing the roadway prior to the conflicting vehicle movement being given a green indication. The duration of the flashing “Don’t Walk” interval is based on the length of the crosswalk – so a wider road to cross requires a longer time.
In total, pedestrians have both the “Walk” and flashing “Don’t Walk” times to cross the roadway (there’s a short additional period of time following the flashing “Don’t Walk” interval for further safety).
We have implemented some pedestrian timing features at many of our coordinated traffic signals, such as to rest in the “Walk” indication along the coordinated directions. In this case, the vehicle indication turns yellow as soon as the pedestrian countdown reaches zero along the coordinated directions. At many intersections, in order to maximize efficiency of operation the pedestrian countdown may not correlate with the vehicle green.
Leading Pedestrian Intervals
In line with Vision Zero Surrey’s we have implemented Leading Pedestrian Intervals at various intersections across the City. During these intervals, pedestrians are shown the “Walk” signal several seconds before vehicles receive a green light.
Learn more about Leading Pedestrian Intervals and where to find them across the City.
Sometimes roundabouts are a better option for a location than a traffic signal for controlling traffic at an intersection. They only allow one-way traffic around a central island and cars entering the roundabout must yield to cars already in the roundabout.
Sometimes a roundabout can improve safety and traffic flow because the shape reduces speed and reduces the potential for "T-bone" and head-on collisions. For more information on roundabouts, see ICBC's Driving Tips for Roundabouts.
The BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MOTI) owns and operates several provincial routes throughout the City, including:
- Highway 1
- Highway 10 (56 Avenue)
- Highway 15 (176 Street)
- Highway 17 (South Fraser Perimeter Road)
- Highway 99
- 8 Avenue between Highway 99 and Highway 15
The traffic signals, roundabouts, message boards and other devices along these highways are managed by the MOTI. Any requests related to these highways are addressed by Ministry staff.
TransLink owns and operates the full extent of Golden Ears Way within Surrey. Requests related to this segment of road are addressed by TransLink staff.