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  • Emma Hallett

Pedestrian crossings

It seems that understanding the differences between the different types of pedestrian crossings can be a bit of a minefield so I thought I would write a post showing the main points for each type so hopefully it’s easier for people to remember. As a point of note there’s very few differences between puffins, toucans and equestrian crossings for drivers although you do need to understand them for your theory test.

  • Zebra: Non-traffic light controlled. Black and white stripes on the tarmac and upright poles. Poles have amber flashing lights on top.

How to deal with a zebra crossing: Approach cautiously, scanning the pavements for pedestrians. If someone is approaching the crossing and you believe they want to cross the road prepare to give way. Remember – once the pedestrian is on the crossing it is their priority and they need to be safely on the pavement before you can proceed.

  • Pelican: Traffic light controlled. After the red light a flashing amber light shows before the green light.

How to deal with a pelican crossing: If someone is waiting, be prepared to stop as the lights may change. When the flashing amber light shows you can proceed with caution. The traffic light may change to green whilst there is someone still crossing the road. Remember – when traffic has a flashing amber light the pedestrians have a flashing green man, people will often run across the road on a flashing green man as they know the traffic light will soon go green.

  • Puffin: Stands for Pedestrian User-friendly Intelligent crossing. Traffic light controlled. Traffic lights operate in the normal sequence.

How to deal with a puffin crossing: If someone is waiting, be prepared to stop as the lights can change quickly. The traffic light should stay red until the crossing is clear but be prepared just in case.

  • Toucan: Operates in the same way as a Puffin crossing. Has a red/green bicycle symbol as well as a red/green man symbol when pedestrians press the button.

Remember – Toucan crossings are the only ones that cyclists can ride across.

  • Equestrian: Operates in the same way as a Puffin crossing. Has a button higher up the pole for horse riders to press whilst still mounted.

  • Informal crossing: Generally anywhere where there is a dropped kerb. May be an island in the middle of the road, usually with bollards. May be a black and white striped pole with a white light on the top,

Remember – pedestrians do not have priority at informal crossings but they may walk out anyway so be prepared to stop.

  • Junction crossings: Traffic light controlled junctions where pedestrians can also cross. Look similar to traffic light controlled crossings. When the pedestrian presses the button to cross it does not stop traffic immediately but instead holds traffic on a red light for longer to allow the pedestrians to cross.

  • School crossing patrols: ‘Lollipop’ man/woman. They will be wearing hi-vis clothing and be holding a pole. If the pole is upside down or horizontal you do not need to do anything. If the pole is pointing into the road you need to stop. When pedestrians are crossing the pole will be upright and they will be stood in the middle of the road. When they move back onto the pavement it is safe to proceed.

I hope this clarifies the differences, although sometimes quite subtle they can be important to ensure you are dealing with it safely.

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