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Traffic Rules & Safety

Special Crosswalks

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What are Special Crosswalks?
A special crosswalk is a traffic control device with pedestrian-activated overhead flashing yellow lights and downward lighting designed to do two things:

  • to draw the attention of drivers to the presence of a crosswalk ahead, and
  • to assist pedestrians in crossing the street by increasing their visibility to approaching traffic.

Since 1997, these special crosswalks have become a new standard for crosswalks on main streets throughout Richmond. Similar devices are also in use across North America.

The flashing yellow lights are activated by a pedestrian pushing a button at the curb. These flashing lights are timed to stay on long enough to allow pedestrians to cross the street.

Special crosswalks in Richmond also have strobe lights visible to pedestrians to indicate that overhead yellow lights are flashing.

Advance Warnings
Some special crosswalks in the city have advance warning signs or lights to alert approaching drivers. The "Yield When Occupied" sign reminds drivers to yield to pedestrians when the crosswalk is occupied.

Special crosswalks on some curved streets have a flashing yellow beacon placed in advance to warn drivers that a pedestrian has pushed the button to cross the street.

An example of these advance yellow beacons can be found at the special crosswalk on Minoru Boulevard across from Richmond Centre Mall.

Rules for Pedestrians
When using a special crosswalk as a pedestrian, you should follow the procedures noted below:

  1. Press the button to activate the flashing yellow lights. The strobe lights indicate that the yellow lights are flashing.

  1. Hold your hand out to indicate your intent to cross the street.

  1. Look left, right and left again and always make eye contact with the drivers of approaching vehicles. Make sure the driver has seen you and has committed to stopping in advance of the crosswalk.

  1. Make sure all vehicles are stopped before stepping out on the roadway. Before you enter each traffic lane, check for on-coming traffic before completing the crossing.

  1. The flashing yellow lights do not guarantee your protection when crossing a street. The best protection is to use caution while crossing and not to assume all cars will stop for you.
Crosswalk Signage Signage at each special crosswalk illustrates the proper procedure for pedestrians.

Pedestrians Should Remember

Although the law states that pedestrians have the right of way at marked crosswalks and intersections, protect yourself by paying attention to approaching cars when crossing.

Rules for Drivers
When approaching a special crosswalk as a driver, you must observe the following rules:

  1. Watch for pedestrians and stopped vehicles ahead at all times when approaching crosswalks, especially when visibility is poor. Always be prepared to stop.

  1. You must stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, regardless of whether or not the flashing yellow lights are active.

  1. If you are the first car to stop at the crosswalk, stop at least one car length back of the crosswalk or at the near side of the intersection so pedestrians can be seen by an approaching motorist in the next traffic lane.

  1. Do not pass other vehicles that are stopped for pedestrians.

  1. Wait until all pedestrians have crossed the centre line of the street to the other side and no other pedestrians are approaching before proceeding.

The minimum fine for failing to yield to pedestrians or passing a vehicle yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk is $144 plus 3 driver penalty points.

Drivers Should Remember

It is the law that drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing the street at a marked crosswalk or intersection, even if the intersection does not have specific pavement markings, signs, flashing lights and/or a traffic signal.

For Further Information
Please contact:

City of Richmond
Transportation Division
Richmond RCMP
Traffic Section
Road Safety & Loss Prevention

None of this information affects the applicability of the Motor Vehicle Act.