Pedestrian crossings

Signal-controlled crossings are used on roads which have:

  • high traffic volumes
  • traffic approach speeds
  • very high pedestrian flows.

The length of time for pedestrian crossing movements is dictated by government guidelines and is based upon the width of the road.

Pelican crossings

These are signal-controlled crossings operated by pedestrians. Push the control button to activate the traffic signals. When the red figure is showing, do not cross. When a steady green figure is showing, check that the traffic has stopped then cross with care. When the green figure begins to flash you should not start to cross. If you have already started, you should have time to finish crossing safely.

Some pelican crossings have a bleeping sound to indicate to blind or partially-sighted people when the steady green figure is showing. Some may have a tactile signal to help deafblind people.

Puffin and Toucan crossings

These differ from pelican crossings in that there is no flashing green figure phase.  

On puffin crossings the red and green figures are above the control box on your side of the road. Press the button and wait for the green figure to show. 

On toucan crossings cyclists are permitted to ride across the road.

Staggered Pelican or Puffin crossings

When the crossings on each side of the central refuge are not in line they are considered two separate crossings. On reaching the central island press the button again and wait for a steady green figure.

When a crossing is controlled by an authorised person you need to follow their instructions. Do not cross the road unless you are signalled to do so by a police officer, traffic warden or school crossing patrol. Always cross in front of them.

At traffic lights

There may be special signals for pedestrians. You should only start to cross the road when the green figure is showing. If you have started to cross the road and the green figure goes out, you should still have time to reach the other side, but do not delay. If no pedestrian signals have been provided, watch carefully and do not cross until the traffic lights are red and traffic has stopped. Keep looking and check for traffic that may be turning the corner. Remember that traffic lights may allow traffic to move in some lanes while stopping it in others.      

The council installs or upgrades several pedestrian crossings (zebra or pelican crossings) each year.

How to get a crossing

Requests from residents are looked at on their individual merits. Many are not justified.

The need for a crossing is assessed according to:

  • traffic volume and pedestrian crossings surveys that gauge the conflict between pedestrians and vehicles
  • the difficulty that pedestrians face from traffic speed and volumes
  • the time pedestrians must wait before they can cross
  • the personal injury accident records indicating how many accidents occur at a location and noting those that involve pedestrians.

Regular motorists tend to ignore crossings that are not often used. Similarly, pedestrians rely on the crossing and, rather than watching the traffic, assume that because a "green man" is showing the traffic will stop.

Both of these problems can result in an increased hazard to pedestrians rather than a decreased hazard.

Crossings have a built-in statistical average-accident rate. In Croydon this is around three personal injury accidents per year. If the accident records show fewer accidents than this, it is possible that a new crossing could hurt, rather than help.


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