Councillor renews push to eliminate red reverts at Ottawa intersections

A sensor at a traffic light on Carling Avenue and Maple Drive in Ottawa. (Tyler Fleming/CTV News Ottawa)

An Ottawa councillor is renewing his push to eliminate red light technology at intersections so cyclists have a green light when they activate the sensors.

Coun. Jeff Leiper will introduce a motion at Wednesday's council meeting to eliminate revert red traffic signals, also known as red reverts, at intersections. The motion comes six weeks after the transportation committee defeated Leiper's motion to eliminate the technology that cycling advocates say is dangerous.

Under council's procedure bylaws, when an item fails at a standing committee, it will not be forwarded to council for a discussion and vote.  A councillor can bring forward a motion to council to consider an item.

A red revert occurs when a vehicle or bicycle trips a sensor at an intersection, leading to a traffic light change. Before the light changes, the sensor does a final check to ensure there's still a car or bike on the sensor. If there is, the light turns green.

What Leiper wants is to eliminate red revert traffic signals so that when the sensor detects a cyclist at the intersection, they will receive a green light even if the bike moves off the sensor area. The adjustment would be made at signalized intersections that have a bike lane.

Ottawa has approximately 1,000 intersections with sensors, with most commonly used where lower-volume streets intersect with high-volume streets.

City staff, including police and fire services and transit services oppose eliminating red reverts at intersections.