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Formal Crossings

Image showing a road with a zebra crossing going across it.

Formal Crossings

The purpose of a formal crossings is to provide non-motorised users with a passage across the carriageway. In the majority of cases, most users are able to cross the road without the provision of a formal crossing, however when traffic flows and the number of users wishing to crossing increases, a formal crossing may be more suitable.

Formal crossings include:


Zebra Crossing

Zebra crossings are easily identified by the distinctive black and white stripes painted on the road and the flashing orange belisha beacons. Zebra crossings are controlled crossings where pedestrians have a legal priority over vehicles without the use of traffic signals. This can make them safer than they first appear as the pedestrian must ensure that the traffic has seen them and stopped before crossing the road.

Drivers approaching a zebra or Parallel crossing should do so with caution, as any pedestrian who steps onto the crossing or cyclist starting across has priority. Drivers must stop and give way.

Parallel Crossing

Parallel crossings operate similar to zebras, however they also include the provision for cyclists to cross without having to dismount. The parallel crossing consists of a standard zebra crossing as above, however an adjacent area to the zebra is marked with a broken white line for cyclists to cross.. Cyclists should slow or stop to allow drivers time to see them about to cross and to stop. Drivers on the road MUST stop when they see either a cyclist or pedestrian about to cross.

Parallel crossings are being introduced in Essex (following others in, for example, London, Cambridge, Bournemouth and Nottingham) to encourage more people to cycle more often by making cycle journeys easier, as cyclists can use a Parallel Crossing without dismounting. They usually join one section of a cycle route to the other.

Distance image of a Parallel Crossing showing the cycling and pedestrain crossing areas
Close up image of a Parallel Crossing showing the cycling and pedestrain crossing areas

Pelican Crossing

Pelican crossings are sometimes referred to as Pedestrian Light Controlled Crossings. Pelican crossings can be located on their own or as part of a traffic signal controlled junction. A Pelican crossing uses a pedestrian operated push button to stop the traffic. The pedestrian is signalled when to cross by use of a red and green man on the signal post on the opposite side of the road. When the red man is lit pedestrians should not cross, although it is not illegal to do so.

Puffin Crossing

The Puffin crossing (Pedestrian User Friendly Intelligent Crossing) was developed to replace the Pelican crossing. Puffin crossings differ from Pelican crossings as they do not have the flashing green man and flashing amber signal. The red and green man are located just above the push button on the same side as the pedestrian and this encourages pedestrians to face the oncoming traffic while waiting for the green man to show. Puffin crossings also have on-crossing detectors to extend the time traffic is stopped to allow all pedestrians to cross.

Toucan Crossing

The Toucan (two can cross) crossing is a shared signal controlled crossing designed for use by pedestrians and cyclists. Toucan crossings are very similar to Puffin crossings, but they are wider and have a red and green cycle as well as the red and green man. Unlike Pelican and Puffin crossings, cyclists can legally cycle across the road.

Pegasus Crossing

The Pegasus crossing is based on the Puffin crossing with separate push buttons and enclosures for horses with riders. The pedestrian area is the same as with a Puffin crossing with a kerb side button and red and green man symbol. The Pegasus crossing has an additional traffic signal pole and enclosed area, separate from the pedestrian crossing area, with a red and green horse with rider symbol. The push button is located 2m from the ground to allow a rider to call the traffic to a halt without dismounting.

What are on crossing detectors?

Special sensors (on crossing or intelligent detectors) are located on the traffic signal poles at Puffin, Toucan and Pegasus crossings to detect pedestrians, cyclists or horse with rider waiting to cross once the button has been pressed. The sensors detect both pedestrians waiting to cross and those crossing. These detectors will cancel any calls for traffic to stop that are no longer required, i.e. if the pedestrian has walked away or crossed in a gap of traffic. These sensors also detect pedestrians that are crossing and ensures that the traffic is signalled to stop until all pedestrians have finished crossing. These sensors determine the length of time given to pedestrians crossing and are not fixed as in the case of Pelican crossings. It is therefore important that any pedestrians waiting to cross remain beside the push button box while the red man is showing.

Assistance for people with disabilities

All formal pedestrian crossing points should have dropped kerbs to assist those with mobility impairments. Controlled crossing points will have red tactile paving and beige coloured tactile paving at uncontrolled crossing points. Tactile paving is a knobbly raised surface to let people who have a visual impairment find the crossing point and kerb.

Tactile cones are located under the red and green man signal box on Puffin and Toucan crossings, these cones rotate when the green man is shown and lets those pedestrians with a visual and/or hearing impairment know that the traffic has been signalled to stop.

There is also often a bleeping sound to indicate that the steady green man is lit on all signal controlled crossings. The audible bleeping sound is occasionally switched off in locations where it is considered a nuisance to adjacent houses. At crossings with an audible bleeping sound, the audible sound is either switched off or the volume is decreased in the evening and during the night.

Reporting issues and crossing requests

To report an issue with a crossing or the surronding area follow the guidance online, using our reporting tool.

To request a new crossing either speak to your local parish council or contact your County Councillor so that the idea can be brought to the attention of the Local Highway Panel for the area.