Q&A - I Need Pedestrian Controlled Signal Data

Q&A ImageQUESTION: I was involved in a collision at West 59th Avenue and Oak Street in Vancouver. Would you would be able to direct me to the appropriate source to retrieve data from that specific traffic light? If possible, the information I am seeking pertains to whether or not that pedestrian controlled traffic signal was red, yellow, or green light on a particular date and time.

ANSWER: The City of Vancouver will provide traffic signal timing reports for court purposes. The cost is $450 and it will contain the following information:

  • The type of traffic signal at the intersection
  • Traffic signal timing
  • Records of any maintenance done at or around the time of the collision

Signal timing can be complicated and this document from the Govenment of BC explains how a signal timing sheet is constructed.

Do traffic signal controllers store data about their operation such as this person requests? I was not able to find any information suggesting that they did but I will inquire and share the information here if I find any.

It would be interesting to know what happened in that collision! Also the date and time, eh? I would speculate that the person seeking the information was driving on W 59th, attempting to cross Oak, but that's just a guess.

Meanwhile, has that anonymous person contacted the folks at Marpole Fire Station, to see if they have video? I would bet they have cameras outside. And what about that Churchill Gardens Townhome? You can bet that they have camera coverage of their entranceway - and probably that whole intersection, too! Marpole/Oakridge Fitness Centre is another possible provider of what happened..

There were probably dozens of cyclists, motorcyclists, cars, trucks, and buses around, with operating dashcams. Possibly the other vehicle(s) in the collision would have been equipped with one! Now that would be ideal ... 

Signals do not generally store this info, and if they do, only for a short buffer time before new data overwrites the old. Even if they did, would it be useful? Someone would need to know the exact time of their incident to the second and the internal clock of the traffic signal controller would need to be precisely set so the timestamp was useful. Signals change colors frequently, often after only seconds. Most commonly they respond to traffic in real time, not on a fixed schedule. The best bet is to try and find video footage showing the cars and what the signal was doing all at once.