As defined by the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act, by legal definition, a crosswalk exists at every intersection whether marked or unmarked and by law a vehicle is required to yield for a pedestrian at all marked or unmarked crosswalks. Failure to yield to pedestrians is a violation of the Motor Vehicle Act, subject to a Summary Offence Ticket. Pedestrians are encouraged to wait for an adequate gap in traffic or until vehicles have come to a complete stop before entering the street.

Throughout the municipality a variety of crosswalk treatments are used, each where they are expected to be most effective. Because of the many requests for the marking of crosswalks, it has been necessary to establish criteria which provide an objective basis for evaluation as to where marked crosswalks are installed on roadways. Most jurisdictions in Canada use some form of criteria to determine which crosswalks will be marked and which will not. HRM uses the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Pedestrian Crossing Control Guidelines to determine where and how marked crosswalks are appropriately installed. 

Marked crosswalks and signs are useful in providing notification to drivers that pedestrians are likely to be encountered at a particular location on a regular basis. All crosswalks are not marked to prevent overuse of treatments which may result in non-compliance with and/or disregard of traffic control devices. When crosswalk signs and markings are used sparingly, individual locations are more conspicuous. 

Crosswalk Tips:

  • Crosswalks exist on all legs of an intersection, whether marked or unmarked.
  • Slow down and scan the street and sidewalk when approaching crosswalks and intersections.
  • Whether you're walking, cycling, rolling, or driving, avoid all distractions when approaching a crosswalk. Ensure you are seen, and your intentions understood. As a driver, be aware that some pedestrians such as those using a white cane or guide dog may not be able to make eye contact. In these cases, err of the side of caution giving ample time for anyone who many not know your vehicle is approaching. 
  • It's the law to use overhead flashing lights and rectangular rapid flashing beacons at crosswalks. Make sure to press the button where it is available. 
  • Remember that you cannot stop or park a vehicle within five metres of a crosswalk.
  • Drivers must yield to pedestrians waiting to cross or when they're already in a crosswalk.
  • Turning vehicles at signalized intersections must yield to pedestrians lawfully in the crosswalk. Pedestrians continue to have the right of way as they finish their crossing.
  • Consider wearing bright colours or reflective clothing when walking in the evening, at dusk or dawn and when the weather conditions make visibility poor.
  • Cyclists that decide to cross the street using pedestrian crosswalks shall walk their bicycle through the crosswalk. 

Marked Crosswalks

Marked crosswalks are located at:

  • Intersections where there is potential for increased conflict between vehicular and pedestrian movements;
  • Desired pedestrian connections with high pedestrian volumes;
  • Where the safest place to cross may not be obvious to pedestrians.

There are various types of marked crosswalks and each is utilized only in certain scenarios, based on factors such as road width, vehicle travel speeds, and vehicle volumes. Different types of crosswalks are described below. 

RA-4 Crosswalks

RA-4 crosswalks are basic marked crosswalks with zebra pavement markings and side-mounted pedestrian signs, two for each direction of travel. 

RA-3 Crosswalks

RA-3 crosswalks are similar to RA-4 crosswalks, however the side-mounted pedestrian signs indicate that it is a school crosswalk, equipped with a crossing guard. 

RA-5 with Flashing Beacon

RA-5 crosswalks are pedestrian activated crosswalk treatment systems that consist of overhead and side mounted amber flashing beacons, additional downlighting, side mounted pedestrian crosswalk signs, and zebra pavement markings.

Road with a crosswalk that has overhead flashing beacons


Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB)

RRFBs are pedestrian activated crosswalk treatment systems which consist of two rapidly and alternately flashing rectangular amber beacons mounted above the side mounted pedestrian crossing signs. 

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons installed at a crosswalk on Tulip Street in Dartmouth

Pedestrian Signals

Pedestrian signals, or half signals, are marked pedestrian crossings equipped with traffic signals on the major street, stop signs on the minor street, and pedestrian activated signal heads with "walk" and flashing "don't walk" indicators. Pedestrian signals typically include twin parallel white line pavement markings. Pedestrian signals are used at busy intersections when it is necessary to control the sequence of, or time allocated to, pedestrian movements.

Raised Crosswalks

Raised crosswalks are marked pedestrian crossings that are raised above the roadway.  They promote pedestrian safety by increasing mutual visibility between pedestrians and motorists.  Shorter pedestrian ramps and tactile indicators will be installed to support pedestrians with visual impairments.

Raised crosswalks also encourage slower speeds of travel by causing discomfort for drivers travelling at higher speeds. They are similar to speed tables, with a flat-topped elongated section that can be installed on Transit routes and is easier for emergency vehicles to traverse. There is no negative effect on cyclists riding at moderate speeds.  

raised crosswalk with curb extensions

The municipality has installed raised crosswalks at four existing crosswalk locations in 2022:

  • Auburn Drive at Bradorian Drive (near Auburn Drive High School)
  • Southgate Drive at Ravines Drive (near Southgate Drive Park Playground)
  • Arklow Drive (near George Bissett Elementary School)
  • Colby Drive at Delta Drive (near Colby Village Recreation Centre Park)

These locations were selected from the Traffic Calming ranked list and the raised crosswalks are being installed along with other traffic calming measures on the streets.

Zebra Markings at Signalized Intersections

Crosswalks at traffic signals are typically marked with twin parallel white lines. A recent safety review of 10 intersections in HRM recommended the use of zebra crosswalks at select signalized intersections to address observed near-miss incidents and historical collision patterns between vehicles and pedestrians. Zebra crosswalk markings (or high-visibility crosswalk markings) at signalized intersections have the potential to improve pedestrian safety by enhancing the conspicuity of pedestrians. 

Zebra style marked crosswalk painted in the intersection of Main Street and Major Street in Dartmouth

A pilot program for zebra markings at signalized intersections was introduced in 2022. The pilot installed zebra markings at six intersections. 

In 2023, HRM received funding through the Federal Active Transportation Fund (ATF) to further explore the safety impacts of zebra markings at signalized intersections. Additional locations are currently being assessed using a before and after comparison of near-miss conflicts. 

Special Marked Crosswalks

HRM paints rainbow crosswalks at several signalized intersections across the municipality. Rainbow crosswalk designs are centered in the intersection with sections of asphalt separating the colours from twin parallel white lines, maintaining the typical crosswalk markings. Pan-African colours have also been installed at select marked crosswalks in historic African Nova Scotian communities.


Stop Controlled Intersections

Parallel line crosswalks are painted, if required, at a stop controlled intersection based on factors such as pedestrian flow, geometry, etc. Each leg of a stop controlled intersection is a crosswalk, regardless of whether parallel lines are painted or not. 

Crosswalk at a stop controlled intersection

Unmarked Crosswalks

Crosswalks exist on all legs of an intersection, whether marked or unmarked. Drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in, or stopped facing, all crosswalks, including those that are unmarked at intersections.

Unmarked crosswalk at intersection