Pedestrian crossings

About pedestrian crossings

There are currently 5 types of formal pedestrian crossings:

  • Zebra crossings
  • Pelican crossings
  • Puffin crossings
  • Toucan crossings
  • Pegasus crossings

Zebra crossings

Zebra crossings are marked by black and white painted stripes across the road, and amber flashing beacons.

The Highway Code says that motorists "must give way when someone has moved onto a crossing". However, pedestrians should stay on the kerb until approaching vehicles have stopped and it's safe to cross.

Zebra crossings are less costly to install than traffic signal-controlled crossings, but they're not recommended for use on classified roads and where traffic speeds are higher than 35 mph.

Pelican crossings

Pelican crossings have red, amber and green signals facing drivers, and a red and green man signal on the opposite side of the road for pedestrians waiting to cross. A pedestrian push button unit operates these.

When the red man is lit, pedestrians should not cross the road - although it's not against the law to do so. 

The Highway Code says that when the red traffic signal is lit, drivers must stop. The green man will then light for pedestrians to cross after they've checked that it's safe to do so.

When the green man begins to flash, pedestrians should not start crossing the road. Pedestrians already in the process of crossing the road should have enough time to finish their journey safely.

At most Pelican crossings, there is a bleeping sound to indicate to visually-impaired people when the green man is lit. Crossings without these sounds may be fitted with a rotating knob underneath the push button unit, which rotates when the green man is lit.

Pelican crossings are no longer installed as it's been replaced by the Puffin crossing. However, there are still many Pelican crossings in use across the country.

Puffin crossings

Puffin crossings are different to Pelican crossings, as they don't have a flashing green or flashing amber signal for drivers. The overall crossing time is decided each time by pedestrian detectors.

There is a push button unit to operate this crossing. However, kerbside pedestrian detectors can cancel the crossing request if it's no longer required, for example, if the pedestrian crosses the road before the green man is lit.

At Puffin crossings, the red and green man signals are above the push button unit on the pedestrian's side of the road. This layout encourages pedestrians waiting to cross to look at the approaching traffic while they wait for the signal. 

Puffin crossings are also fitted with a bleeping sound or a rotating knob to indicate the green man is lit.

Toucan crossings

Toucan crossings are designed for both pedestrians and cyclists. They are typically used next to a cycle path.

Toucan crossings have the same signals as Pelican and Puffin crossings, but they include a green cycle symbol alongside the green man. These indicators can either be on the opposite side of the road, like a Pelican crossing, or above the push button unit, like a Puffin crossing.

Pegasus crossings

Pegasus crossings are similar to Toucan crossings, but they have a red and green horse symbol and their push-button units are mounted higher to allow horse riders to cross.

This type of crossing is only used where many crossing movements are made across a busy main road.

These crossings can be for a horse and rider alone or combined with cycle or pedestrian facilities. If both cases, a holding coral separates horses from pedestrians.

'Staggered' Pelican, Puffin and Toucan crossings

When the crossings on each side of a central island are not in line, they are 2 separate crossings. Pedestrians should cross the road in 2 stages by pressing the push buttons for each crossing and waiting for the green man to light at each separate crossing.

There are no bleepers at staggered crossings as it may lead to confusion. There may be a tactile rotating knob below the push button to help visually impaired people at staggered crossings.