Canadian Bicycle Signal Resources

Ontario Traffic Manual - Book 12A Bicycle Traffic Signals (2018)

The Ontario Traffic Council (OTC) is made up of regions, cities, towns, counties, and institutions from across Ontario, who contribute to traffic management and community safety through their police services, elected representatives, traffic engineers and planners, parking enforcement, and other municipal staff. The OTC promotes excellence in the multimodal transportation field through education, guidance, and sharing expertise supported by its members across Ontario regions, cities, towns, counties, and industry consultants and vendors.

In contrast to the legislative framework that controls traffic control devices within the United States, —specifically the use of bicycle signals— the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario does not address the design or application of bicycle signals or cyclists’ actions when directed by bicycle signals. The OTC has provided detailed guidelines to allow municipalities to make their own decisions on how to design and implement bicycle signals. The Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM) Book 12A – Bicycle Traffic Signals is intended to be used in conjunction with the OTM Book 18 – Bicycle Facilities and the OTM Book 15 – Pedestrian Crossing Facilities.


  • Detailed design information is presented in this manual for traffic signal timing and bicycle specific phasing. Graphical examples give practitioners a detailed starting point for intersection design applications for various bike lane configurations.


  • Decision criteria for implementing bicycle signals are provided with limited threshold requirements for various benchmarks including volume, delay, collision, geometric, and cost. Practitioners should carefully consider the context where bicycle signals are being considered when applying the decision criteria contained within this manual.

The OTC Bicycle Traffic Signals Guide can be found at the following link: OTC-Bicycle-Traffic-Signals-Guide1.pdf (

The OTM Book 12A – Bicycle Traffic Signals can be accessed at the following link:

The OTM Book 18 – Bicycle Facilities (2013) provides additional guidance for bicycle traffic at signalized intersections and general considerations for pavement marking and signage at such locations:


British Columbia Active Transportation Design Guide - Chapter G – Intersections + Crossings, Section G.21

The British Columbia Active Transportation Design Guide is a comprehensive set of planning and engineering guidelines offering recommendations for the planning, selection, design, implementation, and maintenance of active transportation facilities across the province. The primary audience for the Design Guide is design professionals in the engineering, planning, landscape architecture, and architecture fields. It may also be a valuable resource for elected officials, community groups, and the general public.

This document provides guidelines for cities to allow intersection traffic control for bicycle movements — whether necessary or desirable—to occur separately from motor vehicle traffic. The guidance expands on controlling bicycle movements by using a bicycle signal head designated for bicycle use or by using a pedestrian signal head with supplemental signs that indicate that people cycling should use the pedestrian signal. It is important to note that traffic signals with a bicycle signal head are not currently recognized as a traffic control device in the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) and, as such, have no legal meaning under current legislation. Therefore, traffic signals with a bicycle signal head cannot currently be used for facilities on roadways under provincial jurisdiction.


  • Detailed information is presented in this manual for designers and practitioners to assess the need for separated signal phasing scenarios.Recommended traffic thresholds are provided in terms of motor vehicles per hour turning across a protected bicycle lane for lower-speed and higher-speed streets, respectively. These thresholds determine when a time-separated bicycle movement should be considered.
  • Specific guidance is presented for green time, change interval, and clearance intervals to maximize bicycle safety and priority at intersections.


  • Examples of bicycle detection are presented but limited to the discretion of the designer.
  • Bicycle scramble and bicycle diagonal crossing scenarios at signalized intersections are referenced in the guidelines as a common treatment in the Netherlands. Their use in British Columbia is not recommended.

The British Columbia Active Transportation Design Guide, Chapter G – Intersections + Crossings (2019) can be accessed at the following link:

General design guidance for on-street bicycle facilities, including the possible bikeway facility types and how to approach important design decisions such as intersection conflict areas, can also be accessed for reference in Chapter G at the following link:

Additional design guidance related to bicycle signals in Canada is provided in Table 1 and can be accessed at the following links:


TAC Traffic Signal Guidelines for Bicycles (2014)

The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) is a not-for-profit, national technical association that focuses on road and highway infrastructure and urban transportation. Its 500 corporate members include all levels of government, businesses, academic institutions, and other associations. TAC develops guidelines and syntheses of practice, and encourages harmonization of transportation issues and challenges across jurisdictions. While TAC does not set standards, it is a principal source of guidance for the planning, design, construction, management, operation and maintenance of road, highway and urban transportation infrastructure systems and services.

TAC’s Traffic Signal Guidelines for Bicycles (2014) is intended to assist practitioners with planning, designing and implementation of traffic signals for bicycles in Canada.  Bicycle signals are control devices used to separate conflicting movements and to facilitate motor vehicle and bicycle traffic flows. The signals may be installed at intersections where significant bicycle traffic volumes or conflicts exist. While conventional traffic control signals provide safe and convenient passage for cyclists through the vast majority of intersections, there are circumstances in which the addition of bicycle-specific traffic signal features can make cycling safer and more attractive.  The objective of doing so is not necessarily to give cyclists priority over other roadway users, but rather to permit the safe and efficient shared use of intersections and roadways by all users.

Traffic Signal Guidelines for Bicycles can be purchased via the “Order in our Bookstore” button at the following link:

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