The case for no right turns on red

Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Do the new no right turn on red restrictions throughout the city have you feeling either puzzled or frustrated?

York Region’s Transportation Services Department can explain why they’re there.

Regional Councillor Don Hamilton raised the issue at the Sept.29 York Region council meeting based on resident pushback he’s been getting.

Hamilton thanked York Region staff for their efforts to make some intersections safer for students, crossing guards, and pedestrians. Kennedy Road and the Bridle Trail is one such intersection.

The Iocation has been designated a “Community Safety Zone,” given its proximity to Unionville Public School and the high volumes of pedestrian and bicycle traffic, especially students and their families in the mornings and afternoons.

Hamilton acknowledged that certain intersections are problematic and therefore need the restriction of no right turn on red. But he added that the new restriction has “raised the ire” of residents, who are frustrated at the “proliferation” of intersections with the new restrictions or at having to refrain from turning right on a red light when it seems at times unnecessary.

Joseph Petrungaro, director of roads and traffic operations for York Region’s Transportation Services Department, explained the rationale behind the placement of the restriction at specific intersections.

“The no right on red application is an application that is driven through data research and review,” said Petrungaro. He added that when traffic analysis reveals a high number of conflicts, or potential accidents, between pedestrians and/or cyclists and vehicles at certain intersections, video analytics and site reviews are then carried out to assess the need for no right turn on red restrictions.

“We all know that pedestrians and cyclists are among the most vulnerable on our roadways, and when they’re involved in a collision, the severity of injury can be quite extensive leading up to, and unfortunately at times, fatal.”

No right turn on red restrictions have been implemented at York Region intersections in Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, and Vaughan, where the data has confirmed that they’re needed.

Petrungaro explained why the restriction works. Conflict is avoided because pedestrians are seen when vehicles are forced to stop.

While this may seem frustrating to drivers not being able to turn right while pedestrians crossing in the same direction can’t cross either, Petrungaro made the critical point that at any intersection, pedestrians can cross two ways.

It’s the pedestrians crossing in the path of the driver waiting to make a right turn that becomes vulnerable if there’s no restriction in place for the driver turning right. Those situations can surprise the driver and cause a conflict or collision.

“We’re always doing our best to control that conflict in the vein of the highest level of safety for the most vulnerable road user at that intersection,” he said. “If we’re going to make a change to help improve our communities, we have to make changes where it’s not always about time. It’s about people getting to where they need to go safely.”

“I’m very proud of the fact that we have this program in place. We had a pilot project in the City of Markham, and it proved to be very, very successful,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti said. “We have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Some discussion followed about the possibility of implementing “dynamic” no right turn on red technology which can be set to work at certain times of the day or, for example, when a pedestrian activates the “walk” push button.

Petrungaro stressed that dynamic right turn signalling is relatively new and not commonly used. “So we are going through a very cautious and meticulous bench test to make sure we get it right before we implement that,” he said.

Petrungaro added that the region is implementing dynamic signalling at the Woodbine Road and 19th Avenue intersection; however, there is more “latitude” to use it there because it is outside the urban area with little or no pedestrian activity.

















5 thoughts on “The case for no right turns on red

  • 11/24/2022 at 10:11 am

    I strongly disagree with your analysis on “pedestrians are seen when vehicles are forced to stop”. We are not blind. In the 14 years I’ve lived in Unionville I have never seen a pedestrian hit by a car at Carlton & Kennedy Rd and I go through that intersection at least 4 times a day. It’s not only that I’m “forced” to sit there when no cars are coming south on Kennedy Rd, therefore no pedestrian can get hit because it’s a red light for them, but then I’m “forced” to wait for the advance green to go thorough. I was there first, why am I waiting? Why must I sit at a corner where it is completely safe for me to make a right hand turn? You talk about children going to school as the reason for the no right hand turn on a red. Children like my son are in school by 9 am and they don’t leave until 3:30 pm. So why am I waiting in the middle of the day?

    • 01/27/2023 at 6:45 pm

      I AM not blind either, I’ve been cut off numerous time trying to cross the street when it’s my right away as a pedestrian. I have encountered 2 collisions so far with a vehicle. Just because YOU haven’t hit anyone or it doesn’t result in a fatality that makes front page news, does not mean it is not happening. I am going to petition to the city to install more these signs around the city.

  • 01/13/2023 at 12:15 pm

    I completely agree with what Michelle said in the above comment. I have been living in Unionville for over 10 years, and many of the intersections on Kennedy between hw 7 and 16th have very few pedestrians to cross during the day (much less during the evening), all these recently added “no right right on red” signs and “left turn only” traffic lights have caused great inconvenience to the people especially the neighbors driving through those intersections – very often a long line of the cars waiting to make a right turn while there is absolute no vehicle and pedestrians on the road, or no incoming car and no people crossing and you still can’t make a left turn on green. This is very unnecessary and frustrating!

    • 01/27/2023 at 6:42 pm

      That’s funny as a pedestrian I’ve been cut off by motorist turning right on red when I am just about to cross the street. I am wearing lights and a yellow reflected vest. Just because YOU do not see it, does not mean it isn’t happening or causing someone panic attacks on a daily basis. I’ve been hit twice, luckily it hasn’t resulted in a fatality.

  • 01/27/2023 at 6:50 pm

    It’s like none of you ever walk anywhere… This is exactly the problem. “I’ve never hit anyone” that’s fantastic, you aren’t the problem, but I cannot say the same to your fellow unskilled motorist. I motsly commute/walk/cycle to get to places. I been very diligent following the rules but have always been cut off and even HIT on a couple of occasions. We need more of these signs, especially near schools and high foot traffic areas.


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