Accessible Pedestrian Signals

Requesting an accessible pedestrian signal

In 2014 the City added 22 more signalized intersections with Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) operation. In total, by the end of 2014, there were 46 signalized intersections in the City of Hamilton with APS operation. For 2015 the City is planning to add another 56 signalized intersections with Accessible Pedestrian Signal operation.

Requests for the installation of an Accessible Pedestrian Signal must be submitted to the Built Environment Sub-committee by emailing This group establishes a priority listing and submits the locations to City staff.

Installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals is subject to available funding.

When crossing traffic at busy intersections, persons with varying physical limitations require different types of support in order to safely cross. Pedestrian activated buttons are clearly indicated. Crosswalks and signals are a consistent design for ease of use.  All signals at pedestrian crosswalks are designed generally in accordance with requirements of the Highway Traffic Act and the Ontario Traffic Manual Book 15 (OTM Book 15).

Where the crossing distance is larger than usual, or the traffic flow determines it, a three stage crossing may be provided. At these intersections, a safe area is provided such as a traffic island, so you can cross in stages.

In locations frequently used by seniors or persons with disabilities, crossing timing should be provided to permit pedestrians or persons in wheelchairs to cross safely.

Accessible pedestrian signals tell pedestrians who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind when they have the right-of-way to cross at a signalized intersection and which direction they may cross. Accessible pedestrian signals are linked to the visual pedestrian signals.

Two audible tones are used to indicate the direction in which the pedestrian has the right-of-way:

  • A cuckoo sound, accompanied by the walking person display, indicates that the pedestrian has the right-of-way in the north/south direction.
  • A Canadian melody sound , accompanied by the walking person display, indicates that the pedestrian has the right-of-way in the east/west direction.

At some signals, the signal operates automatically. At other signalized intersections, a pedestrian button must be pushed and held for at least three seconds. If the button is not held down for at least three seconds, the audible sound will not be activated even though the walking person display appears.

Some signals are equipped with left-turn green arrow phases. During this phase the visual walk is displayed on the non-conflicting side. The audible tones will not come on until the left-turn phase has ended and both visual walk displays are on. This is to avoid pedestrians, who are blind or visually impaired, from mistaking the audible tone on the non-conflicting side for the conflicting side.

In addition to the “cuckoo” and “Canadian melody” sounds, signals are equipped with a continuous tone called a “locator tone”. This tone is emitted from the buttons to assist pedestrians, who are blind or visually impaired, in locating the buttons. Accessible Pedestrian Signal buttons are equipped with a raised arrow that points in the direction of travel. This arrow vibrates when the signal sounds are activated. The sounds and locator tones automatically adjust to ambient sound levels. During peak traffic conditions they may sound louder. Overnight they drop to their lowest volume level.