Pedestrian crossings

Pedestrian crossings help to encourage people to walk and to improve safety. There are two main categories of pedestrian crossing.

Signal Controlled Crossings

Puffin crossing (Pedestrian User Friendly Intelligent crossing)
The puffin crossing is an updated version of the pelican crossing and actually looks very similar. One of the main differences on a puffin crossing is that the red and green man signals are located just above the WAIT box and not on the other side of the road. Pedestrians should press the button on the box. Puffin crossings have special sensors built in which can detect a pedestrian waiting and make sure that traffic remains stopped until all the pedestrians have crossed the road. Puffin crossings do not have a flashing green man for pedestrians or a flashing amber for drivers.

Pelican crossing (Pedestrian Light Controlled crossing)
Pelican crossings are controlled by the pedestrian pressing the button on the WAIT box. Pedestrians should only cross when the green man lights up and all the traffic has stopped. Sometimes there is a bleeper to help blind or partially sighted people know when it is safe to cross. Alternatively there may be a rotating knob underneath the WAIT box, which turns when the green man lights up. Pedestrians should not start to cross if the green man signal is flashing. 

Toucan crossings (Two-Can cross)

These crossings are provided for pedestrians and cyclists, usually at sites where cycle routes cross busy roads. They are similar to a Puffin with the crossing operated by a push button on the WAIT box. On a Toucan there is a green and red cycle signal as well as the more familiar red and green man. The main advantage for cyclists is that they do not have to dismount to cross. Toucans also have sensors to detect pedestrians using the crossing. There is no flashing green man signal and drivers must wait for a green light.

Other Crossings

Zebra crossing
This crossing has black and white stripes (like a zebra) with orange flashing beacons at each end. A Zebra crossing gives the pedestrian right of way once their foot is on the crossing. However, pedestrians must make sure that all the traffic has stopped before crossing and they should keep looking and listening as they cross. 

Pedestrian refuges
In some locations, where a pedestrian crossing cannot be justified, a pedestrian refuge (traffic island) may be placed. These narrow the road and allow pedestrians to cross in two halves with a safe place to wait in the middle. Pedestrians should cross with care as drivers have priority at traffic islands. 

How are new pedestrian crossing identified?

We identify pedestrian crossings from a number of sources such as engineering safety studies where there are accident clusters, and the Better Ways to School programme where we are improving safety and encouraging more pupils to walk to school. The justification and the type of crossing depend upon a number of factors which may include:

  • the number of pedestrians;
  • the number of vehicles;
  • the length of time pedestrians have to wait to cross;
  • the width of the road;
  • the speed of traffic and
  • the pedestrian injury accident record at the site. 

How to request a pedestrian crossing

Ring the Highways Hotline on 0300 303 2992 providing details and location of the crossing required. Your query will then be passed to the appropriate Area Engineer to be dealt with.