Pedestrian Crossings

Types of Pedestrian Crossings

There are currently five types of formal pedestrian crossings used in the United Kingdom, these being Zebra, Pelican, Puffin, Toucan and Pegasus crossings.  The most basic form of crossing is a pedestrian refuge, this is usually in the form of an island in the centre of the road.

ZEBRA crossings are marked by black and white painted strips across the road and flashing amber beacons. The Highway Code says that motorists ‘MUST give way when someone has moved onto a crossing’. However, pedestrians should remain on the kerbside for safety’s sake until approaching vehicles have stopped. Zebra crossings are cheaper to build than traffic signal crossings although their use on roads where traffic speeds are higher than 35mph is not recommended.

PELICAN crossings have red/amber/green signals facing drivers, and red man/green man signal heads on the opposite side of the road to the pedestrians waiting to cross. A pedestrian push button unit operates these. When the red man is lit pedestrians should not cross (although it is not against the law to do so). The Highway Code says that when the steady red signal to traffic is lit then drivers MUST stop. The green man will then light for pedestrians and they should, having checked that it is safe to do so, cross the road. When the green man begins to flash pedestrians should not start to cross although there is still enough time for those on the crossing to finish their journey safely. At all Pelican crossings (apart from ‘staggered’ crossings) there is a bleeping sound to indicate to the visibility impaired when the steady green man is lit.

PUFFIN crossings differ from Pelican crossings as they do not have a flashing green man/flashing amber signal. The overall crossing time is established each time by on-crossing pedestrian detectors. The demand for the crossing is still triggered by the push button unit but kerbside pedestrian detectors are fitted to cancel demands that are no longer required (when a person crosses before the green man lights). At the latest Puffin crossings the red man/green man signals are above the push button unit on the pedestrians’ side of the road. This layout encourages pedestrians waiting at the crossing to look at the approaching traffic at the same time as looking at the red man/green man signal.