Saturday 7 February 2015

Why Did The Zebra Cross The Road?

I like zebra crossings. They allow pedestrians to immediately gain priority of traffic and are far more flexible than traffic signals. This post is about where we are now and where I think we should be going with this British Institution.

The World's most famous zebra crossing at Abbey Road,
St. John's Wood, London. It is poorly lit, has no tactile paving and

the dropped kerbs are not great. But, it has its own webcam!
This idea has been hanging around for so long in my head that things are changing in zebra crossing design, but I will come back to that briefly later. 

The inspiration came from the humble Belisha beacon which celebrated its 80th Birthday last year - have a read of Wikipedia for more background. They are named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, the transport minister who introduced them at crossing points marked with metal road studs. 

Zebra crossings as we would recognise them didn't appear until 1951 when stripes were added to make the more conspicuous. For a detailed history, check out the brilliant CBRD website and we are indebted to Living Streets (previously known as the Pedestrian Association) getting them introduced in the first place. One important point to make about Zebra crossings is to get priority over traffic, people are actually meant to step onto them (easier said than done!).

So, let's kick off with the law. As usual, we have primary (acts) and secondary (regulations) legislation governing what we can do and Zebra crossings are no exception. S23 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act gives traffic authorities the power to establish pedestrian crossings on their roads (S24 gives similar powers to the Secretary of State for his roads - i.e. trunk roads). S25 of the Act gives power of the Secretary of State to make Regulations governing pedestrian crossings. We have to publish proposals and people have the right to object to them being placed.

The regulations which cover pedestrian crossings are the snappily titled "Zebra, Pelican & Puffin Pedestrian Crossing Regulations and General Directions 1997". (Northern Ireland has 2006 Regulations). For those worrying about Toucan crossings, don't they are essentially modified Pelicans or Puffins (same applies for Pegasus crossings for equestrians). Anyway, this is about Zebras.

A zebra crossing with an island and a central Belisha beacon
is taken as two separate crossings.
Other relevant law will be the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (as amended) which covers the traffic signs and road markings associated with Zebra crossings. Later this year the ZPPPCRGD1997 (!) will be absorbed into the TSRGD (2015) which makes a bit of sense in my view (and I will post about it then).

In terms of "official" guidance, there are two things which can be referred to;

A word of warning. Although these are current Government guidance documents, they are almost 20 years old and so not a reflection of modern thinking, although the assessment document does try and get designers to consider sites on their merit and approach schemes logically. The design document goes into more detail on the general design and layout considerations for pedestrian crossings with specific advice for Zebra crossings.

At this point I need to remind you that guidance is not law and one is free to depart from it, so long as the legal provisions are met. In short, this gives rise to quite a lot of flexibility in how Zebra crossings can be laid out - far more than some of my peers would have you believe. For practitioners, it is good practice to keep a design note on the whys and wherefores, especially if you are going a little unconventional.

The humble Belisha beacon
So, what constitutes a Zebra crossing? First, it is the Belisha beacon. The size and colour of the flashing globe is regulated (along with the flash rate). The beacon mounting height is regulated and so are the black and white stripes on the poles.

Then we have road markings. We of course need the black and white stripes on the road (the black normally being the road surface) which have their dimensions regulated along with the layout, number and length of the zig-zags (known as the "controlled area"). We also have stop lines and crossing studs (painted or metal) to think about. Schedule 1 of the ZPPPCR1997 gives the ranges.

One other thing to consider is the often thorny issue of tactile paving. Now, it is not specifically a legal requirement, but with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, highway authorities need to ensure that new schemes are accessible and this includes substantial maintenance work. 

Your basic zebra crossing tactile paving is red, with a row of two
tiles at the dropped kerb and a "stem" 3 tiles wide which ideally
runs to the back of footway to blind and partially-sighted people
can find and orientate themselves.
Tactile paving is there to guide people with visual impairment to the crossing point and is needed because of the need to provide flush crossing points for the benefit of people with reduced mobility. Guidance on the Use Of Tactile Paving Surfaces suggests that the tactile paving should be red to denote a controlled crossing (i.e. pedestrians control traffic by stepping onto the crossing).

Even though red is the recommended colour, the guidance also refers to the need for a colour contrast. It is more relaxed in conservation areas as some urban designers and others don't like tactile paving full stop and red brings them out in a rash. I also have it on good authority that this guidance is being revised, but there is nothing out for consultation as yet. The guidance also refers to trials of an embossed "Z" on the post to assist blind and partially-sighted people distinguish from a signalised crossing, although I have never seen this "live" myself.

The tactile paving should be 'L' shaped. As one stands by the crossing, the 'L' will be upside down with the 'stem' on the right hand side along with the beacon. The arrangement is to hint at people which way the traffic will be coming from as they start to cross and for a two-way road the "L" shapes won't be a mirror image across the centre of the road (it remains the same on a one-way street). Where Zebra crossings go to islands, the recommended arrangement of tactile paving is given too.

A zebra crossing may be put on a road hump (flat topped!), but
other humps are not allowed within the controlled area (zig-zags).

In this photo, we also have the beacon globes mounted around
the posts, light-up stripes on the posts and the post has high
level lighting.
We are also allowed to put the zebra crossing on a road hump (flat topped speed table) which can help slow traffic and make the crossing flatter for users and we can put refuges in the middle of a crossing making, sometimes making it a two-stage non-staggered crossing (and you can stagger them if you really must, but this is relatively unusual). We are also able to light crossings, have the white stripes on the beacon posts light up (not flashing) and mount kit in all manner of creative ways.

So having read all of the above, my suggestion is bear the fact in mind that there are some things we have to do when designing zebra crossings, but they are very flexible so we can start with the basics. Pedestrians want to cross on the desire line and that should be our starting point. All too often zebra (and other) crossing are placed where people won't use them and are then funnelled with miles of guardrail to force them to be used.

This image (from Google Streetview) is a classic example of a zebra crossing where the guardrail probably cost more than the crossing itself. I say probably, because I cannot remember - this was the first zebra crossing I built*, but in my defence I didn't design it, I worked for the maintenance team at the time and we installed schemes for the traffic team. (*yes, 'I' didn't physically do the work, but you know what I mean!).

This crossing, on Link Road, Canvey Island, Essex, was installed around 1996 and (from memory) it was to help school children cross this busy road. There must be well over 100 metres of guardrail to keep the kids penned in, although once they are beyond the guardrail goodness only knows what they would do.

Many years after this crossing I am still involved in their design, but fortunately, I think I know what I am doing now (well, let the users be the judge of that I suppose). On guardrail, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum these days and I would generally not design it into a scheme. One exception for Zebra crossings would be where they are closely associated with a school pedestrian entrance as there are often crowds of people milling about who could knock a smaller pedestrian into the road. In this situation, I would offset the crossing from the gate by a few metres so the guardrail protects people immediately at the gate.

When we look at desire lines more generally, crossing a side road can be an issue for people and although unusual, zebra crossings can be placed across the entry to the side road. The photo above is a panorama of the Abbey Road crossing (to the left) and its sibling across Grove End Road. LTN 2/95 recommends;

Another side road zebra at St. John's Wood High Street, note that
no zig-zags are present on the right hand side. The Regulations
require a minimum of 2 markings and so this crossing does not
strictly comply with the rules. The buff coloured tactile paving does

not confirm to guidance on colour. I wonder if the designer 
recorded the reasons for these issues?
Crossings on a minor road should not be sited very close to a ‘GIVE WAY’ or ‘STOP’ line. Generally the nearer the crossing is to the major road the greater will be the distance to be crossed. Drivers of vehicles turning into the minor road need time to judge the situation and space in which to stop.

So you can put them on a side road and being close to the junction might be better than tucking them away from a desire line and visibility point of view in any case. On the main road, LTN2/95 recommends;

Crossings should be located away from conflict points at uncontrolled junctions. This will give drivers an adequate opportunity to appreciate the existence of a crossing and to brake safely. The ‘safe’ distance will depend on the geometry of the junction and type of side road. However, a minimum distance of 20 metres is suggested for a signalled-controlled crossing and an absolute minimum of 5 metres for a Zebra crossing. It is suggested that the distance be measured from the position of a driver waiting at the give-way line of the side road. Where it is impossible to obtain a ‘safe’ distance, consider banning turning movements towards the crossing or make the side road one way away from the junction.

Silk Street in the City of London. Near a funny roundabouty thing,
but seems to work OK. The bright band of lights around the
Belisha beacon globe are by Zebrite and are really bright even
during the day.
Many zebra crossings are well away from junctions, but where put near one, putting too far away can mean that again, people might not use it. For me, visibility and traffic speed are the issues and if the latter is too high, we can put the crossing on a hump or reduce traffic speeds other ways. A crossing in the wrong place is at best a waste of money and at worse could lead to drivers who expect people to cross on a zebra crossing missing someone crossing a little further away (and that is not excusing a lack of driver attention).

Zebra crossings can be placed near roundabouts (both kerbed and mini) although they should be kept away from any flares out to multiple lanes as there is more to cross and multiple lanes are risky (more on that later). I would set a crossing back from the give way line of the roundabout to allow vehicles to leave the roundabout circulation area, although in tight situations with mini-roundabouts, it might not be possible.

A test layout at the Transport Research Laboratory with added
cycle lanes/ tracks.
With larger layouts, it might be worth leaving space for a couple of vehicles and the greater the gap, the better the visibility between pedestrian and driver as the crossing is square with the direction of the road. Of course there is a balance to be had with pedestrian desire lines here.

Zebra crossings should be a minimum of 2.4m wide, but can be up to 5m wide where pedestrian use is high and with approval (by the Secretary of State) up to 10.1m in width. They should be square across the road where possible and zig-zags are normally 8 markings (with the configurations prescribed). This can be reduced to 2 markings or increased to 18 (and markings reduced to 1m in length) and zig-zags apply the "controlled area" rules within them. The variation in length and number of zig-zags is often used to start or end them one side or another at a side road foe example. Paragraph 10 of Schedule I of the Regulations state;

Given that that at least 2 markings are required, the St. John's Wood High Street example in the photo above is technically unlawful. It is sometimes argued that a Zebra crossing in the spirit of the rules is fine which would "clear" the St. John's Wood High Street example, except S10 of the Regulations state;

To omit zig-zags completely (i.e. the controlled area) is pushing it a bit, although there is an argument that the layout of the St. John's Wood High Street is clear enough and there are loads of examples of this layout. I would be inclined to leave that to the courts! There are more niceties of the rules, but I shan't bore you any more.

The visibility of a Zebra crossing is important in terms of drivers being able to see pedestrians and pedestrians being able to see vehicles. LTN2/95 suggests that with a speed of 30mph, the forward visibility for a driver should be 65m (absolute minimum 50m) and at 40mph, 100m, (absolute minimum, 80m). These are measured 85th percentile speeds rather than the speed limit given how some people choose to drive. 

The visibility is a guide, but if the measured speeds are 35mph and above, design with caution and if they have reached 40mph, then a Zebra crossing is not appropriate in my view and speeds need to be reduced, or a signal-controlled crossing provided which can adapt to higher speeds. When designing, I would also want to make sure that drivers can see people approaching a crossing or waiting to cross and so as a rule of thumb, I want to have a clear view to the rear of the footway, or at least 2m back from the kerb on a wider footway.

Warning signs may be provided in certain cirumstances, although to be honest, we use too many. The sign on the left is the UK sign for Zebra crossing ahead, while the sign on the right is a Danish version (with many around the world looking similar). I think the sign on the right makes more sense, but it means something different as outside the UK, many mix stripes with traffic signals.

A pretty basic spotlight and pretty crappy it is too.
Lighting of Zebra crossings is important and is covered in LTN2/95. Practically, people waiting to cross and actually crossing need to be seen by people driving when it is dark. If the street lighting is very good, then no additional lighting is needed - the example above of Silk Street has no additional lighting (although I haven't seen it at night) and often city centres will be fine, although glare could be an issue in affecting the vision of people driving.

Away from the bright lights of the city, or if a higher level is needed to compete, then specific lighting is required. It is often the case that the Belisha beacon has a spotlight attached to do this extra job. Frankly, they are awful and should no longer be used. They might illuminate the waiting area, but rarely do a good job of lighting the crossing.

The Zebra lighting is on top of a 5m lighting
column. Most street lighting manufacturers have
their own "zebra" versions of common luminaires
The modern approach is to use lighting which illuminates the vertical of people waiting and crossing, rather than the plan which normal street lighting provides. Using clever optics (known as "linear beam spreaders" - thanks Jono Kenyon!), modern Zebra lighting is great. To keep clutter down, the Belisha beacon can be mounted on an ordinary lighting column which is then given the Zebra paint job.

There are many ways the Belisha beacon globes can be mounted. Given that I have endorsed high level lighting, you are faced with two options; first, they can be mounted on brackets and second (and rather funkily) the globe can wrap around the post.

The product I have used for years is the Midubel, by Simmon Signs. I have nothing personal to declare with the company, I have just found their products to be excellent in the years I have known them, plus their customer service is second to none (they will even teach your street lighting contractor how to fix the kit). You don't have to centre-mount the beacon, but it just looks tidy.

This Zebra crossing has illuminated posts
helping to show the crossing against a
backdrop of vehicle headlights and shop fronts

High level lighting in action (with vertical optics) nicely lighting this
Zebra crossing, complete with centre-mounted Midubel globes.
As mentioned above, I am not a fan of multi-lane Zebra crossings. Apart from the width that people have to cross, if traffic is busy, then one slow moving lane can mask people stepping out into a lane with faster moving traffic. I realise that people approaching the crossing should be aware of this and slow down to anticipate pedestrians, but they don't and so I think multi-lane approaches are inherently dangerous. Even with free flow of traffic, the first driver might stop, but if the second one doesn't, you've had it.

This does bring me onto the tricky issue of pedestrian refuges placed within a Zebra crossing. These are used for two reasons. First, so that people can cross in two halves. As with multi-lane approaches, a slow moving lane in one direction can mask people crossing and a refuge deals with that problem. Second, on busier roads, a refuge can be less of a hold up to drivers which means a pretty flexible layout can be provided.

Just awful. 3 lane approach one side, 2 wide lane approach on
the other, a narrow stagger and kerbs which are not flush. This is
Winston Way, Ilford, East London. From Google Streetview.

A multi-lane Zebra crossing, Victoria Embankment, London.
The problem is that pedestrian refuges need to be at least 1.8m wide in order to be accessible for all users (otherwise there is not enough space for a mobility scooter user or people with buggies) and the refuge island can create pinch points for those riding bikes on the carriageway.

You can squeeze the carriageway down to about 3 metres which means that people riding bicycles cannot be overtaken (but those cycling become a rolling road block), although some drivers try, or you can have the carriageway at 4.5m to allow overtaking, but it feels close when you are on the bike. The answer is that in conditions where people need help to cross the road, it is likely that people cycling need protection from traffic. 

Cycle Superhighway 3, Cable Street, London
There is no cheap answer here; something which helps walking can make things hard for cycling. On the flip-side, when we accommodate cycling, we can make life more difficult for pedestrians. Cable Street in London carries Cycle Superhighway 3. It is a bidirectional cycle track running next to a one way street. It is narrow in places, but a pretty decent bit of cycle route. 

The problem is that the zebra crossings make life more complicated for pedestrians who have to content with traffic and two-way bikes; every time I use the route, there are often people riding through, heedless of people trying to cross. Yes, driver compliance at crossings can be poor too and we are dealing with bad behaviour by people, rather than by the mode they are using. It is a compromise as there is often not enough space to provide a decent refuge.

In Bristol, they are trying something a little different on Baldwin Street, using stripes of block paving to hint at pedestrian priority over a new bidirectional cycle track. Thanks to Maidstone on a Bike for the photo - there is more on his blog. This is not a zebra crossing and personally, I do have some concerns about the outcomes if either a person riding or a person walking assume they have priority at the wrong moment.

The "hinted" crossing is an attempt to give priority to pedestrians. Given that this is next to a Puffin crossing, it is reasonable (in my view) for pedestrians to think they have priority over the cycle track. I do wonder what people with visual impairment would do here as the tactile paving "stem" extending to the rear of the footway is there to guide them to the push button on the crossing.

The layout has come from the frustration that we don't have a cut-down version of the zebra crossing just for cycle tracks. We can build a full-sized zebra crossing such as this one under test at the Transport Research Laboratory, but they are messy.

In this case, we end up with the full complement of tactile paving and beacon posts creating physical and visual clutter. We need to just be able to put the black and white stripes down as they do elsewhere in the world as is well discussed by Mark Treasure of the As Easy As Riding A Bike blog. Zig-zags are not needed as people won't be parking bikes on the approaches to block views. I am still a little concerned about the impact on people with visual impairment and so we will need tactile paving as guidance. To be honest, this is an area beyond my expertise and there definitely needs to be more work and discussion with users on the subject - it is just we have never really done it and we are all learning.

This is pretty good, all of the basic components and with a speed
table to slow vehicles and give a level walking surface.
Zebra crossings are not just confined to the highway, they are ubiquitous in cars parks everywhere, marking a "safe" route for pedestrians. Quality varies and of course, they are not subject to highway law, although get it wrong and people can be killed.

I have designed a couple in my time and I think as long as the stripes and the Belisha beacons are there, along with tactile paving and a flush kerb you are there. In a car park, zig-zags are not really needed and I would hope speed and visibility are not issues - as ever, good basic design principles apply.

The problem I find with these "private" Zebra crossings is that they are often poorly laid out and poorly detailed with the usual being a lack of flush kerbs at the crossing point. As with highway authorities, operators of retail parks are required to make reasonable adjustments to assist all customers in line with the Equalities Act 2010 and in a new build, there is no excuse for duff work. Of course, retail parks are there to attract people by car and pedestrians are often an afterthought, even though the car-borne customers complete their journey through the car park by foot!

We are currently waiting for the Traffic Signs & General Directions 2015 to be enacted. One of the proposals in last year's consultation, was to create a "cycle Zebra" which is essentially the creation of a parallel cycling crossing next to the stripes of the Zebra which is reserved for pedestrians.

Partly because this is a post about Zebra crossings for pedestrians and partly because this layout is new (there has been a couple of schemes with similar layouts) I am not going to spend time on it - a subject for another day.

Yes, I like Zebra crossings because of their flexibility. If by a railway station, hoards of people in the morning and evening can get priority over traffic where a signalised crossing would hold people up on busy footways waiting for a green man (or they will just ignore it). At the same kind of location, during the quieter times of the day, there are no traffic delays, but people can just turn up and cross. Their design and location need a lot of thought and when being built, attention to detail is everything.


  1. TBH I don't think we make enough use of zebra crossings (at least those of us outside that there London). We know that, for example, the elderly can have trouble judging speeds and distance, and while they prefer signalised crossings because of the perceived control they give, zebras can also be acceptable, certainly better than a couple of dropped kerbs and some tactiles and being left to their own devices.

    As for layouts on the desire line, if you had a four-arm crossroads and placed a zebra on each arm close to the junction, would there be anything stopping us using those 'minimum of 2 zig-zags' on double duty, i.e. each crossing shared them such that the crossings were essentially only 4m apart (2 lines of 2m each)? Which brings me to the requirement to place them centrally on a raised hump - does this apply to a raised speed table, as one might find at that crossroads junction - if so, it would then preclude the use of any zebras?

    Finally, when we are doing away with lighting of signs, e.g. keep lefts mounted on bollards (even to the extent of removing the bollards themselves), the need to light the globe and crossing 'everywhere' seems to me OTT - these requirements were after all introduced 80 years ago - we now live in a world with high performance microprismatic materials. And a world where Local Authorities are reducing costs, such that equipment needing an electrical feed, ducting, etc., plus ongoing maintenance, is not likely to make them more ubiquitous.

    Andy R.

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  3. I'd like to see Belisha beacons got rid of, ugly street clutter, and they do just fine without them abroad after all.

    1. "...and they do just fine without them abroad after all."

      I think we need to be careful here. It's easy to criticise the UK's road layouts, but we should remember we are one of the SUNflower countries (Sweden, UK, Netherlands) which still has one of the best road safety records in the world (and for a long time led the world). Unless we have those statistics on how they work I'd be loathe to just get rid completely. (Oh for the days of the old TRRL when they were truly independent and did ground-breaking research - but that's another matter).

      Having said that, if the collision data showed no appreciable difference in casualty rates then I'd like an option to remove beacons completely, or have low-level alternatives - something, as you suggest, that's not so intrusive, but still, most importantly, visible to drivers, and that gives confidence to peds to start to cross the road.

      Andy R.

    2. 1. It is disingenuous to quote the UK road safety record in this context. This country kills more pedestrians as a percentage of all road deaths, than most other European countries (one of the reason I call it #nastybritain);
      2. Much more useful than the beacon is the Controlled Area, which is indeed a very good British invention. The role of the Zigzags is to define the area, and you are wrong when you say that Grove End Road falls foul of regs: the zigzags from the other crossing ensure an adequate Controlled Area. Indeed the Regulations state: "where ...the requirements of ... these Regulations as to the placing of ... road markings ... to indicate the ... controlled area [i.e. where the zig zags are] have not been complied with in every respect, ... the controlled area shall nevertheless be treated as complying with these Regulations if the non-compliance is not such as materially to affect the general appearance of the ... controlled area". More here:

  4. I agree that Zebra crossings are great for providing priority for pedestrians at THEIR convenience. Unfortunately, what we are seeing in Richmond-Upon-Thames is a concerted effort by the council (with support from TfL in some cases) to remove zebras and replace them with pelican/toucan crossings, including on junctions where pedestrians will have to wait multiple times ( ).

    This is claimed to provide additional safety for pedestrians, as drivers are apparently more willing to obey the law and stop for red lights than for people on zebras - this is certainly how the council and Tfl are trying to sell these schemes.

    However, the material effect will be a hugely increased delay for pedestrians and cyclists. The real aim of the scheme seems to be to promote traffic flow by limiting the amount of time that vulnerable road users will be allowed to hold up motor vehicles. This has been pointed out by various people, including the local LCC.

    So in response to the poster of the first comment - there are still parties in (at least some areas of) That London trying to take away the pedestrian priority that zebras promote!

  5. It's a difficult one. The research has been done (see the I'DGO website) and shows that the elderly prefer signalised crossings. On the other hand there does seem to be a tendency amongst the traffic signal fraternity to favour motor vehicles wrt waiting times when they install these crossings, which can make them seem the inferior option.

    (Although I suspect safety does come into it - I assume the waiting time is down to the distance needed for vehicles to safely stop given their speed. If a vehicle falls within the shadow of the detector going above a certain speed then the ped green is delayed...and delayed...and delayed. Something introduced with the best of intentions - like central islands on crossings - but which has unintended, and unfortunate consequences).

    Andy R.

    1. Yes, I'd be interested to know the logic used for Pelican signal timings. I can see they would have a minimum time between pressing the button and the signal changing to provide adequate stopping distance. However does the timing also take into account the last time the signal changed? In other words "the button has been pushed but the signal was last red a minute ago so I'll wait longer to change to red again because 'I don't want to disrupt the flow of traffic' "

  6. Your wish has come true. New TSRGD will dispense with zig zags and belishas for zebras across cycle tracks.

    1. But what about the need to light them all the time?

      This isn't the 1930's - let's chuck some Diamond Grade (or similar approved) at them and do a trial!

  7. The idea behind the 'off-colour' crossings on the new cycle path in Baldwin Street, Bristol, was (as I understand it) to impress upon the pedestrians that the cycle lane is not shared-use and that they therefore need to think about crossing it the same way as if they were crossing the road. It doesn't work, IMO. The dividing line between the footway and the cycle path is just a flush line, and pedestrians just wander all over it.

  8. Phew - lots of comments, thanks for the debate.

    Phil - that's good news, I await TSRGD15 with interest (the sad git that I am). I think this will be much clear to all than "hinted priority".

    Andrea - yes, the controlled area not absolutely complying is a fair point, hence my note on it. I think the intention was to cover zags rather than zigs (if that makes sense) and layouts being a bit unusual. In terms of the St John's Wood High Street, no zig-zags at all on one side, but on the other, yes the approach is clear. I think in all cases, we would probably get away with it - you could physically park between the main road and side road crossings anyway as the controlled area includes the stripes - yes, my point may be rather technical and academic!

    Andy R - on the beacons, I would support them staying lit. If we are going to light the crossing probably anyway, with 24v beacons in my examples, the power draw is tiny and why not target our street power use where safety is key. This post wasn't going to get into international crossings, but I know that in New Zealand they don't light theirs - see here in Queenstown, a crossing I remember from a visit in the early 2000s

    I would state that with decent retroreflective materials, they are reasonably good for car headlights, but poor for reflecting lorry headlights because the drivers sit so much higher. It is for this reason that the new TSRGD15 will keep some lighting for safety-critical signs. Additionally, the beacons make the crossing very clear at night.

    Anonymous - signals are set up in cycles and yes, it can be set up to give drivers a green for a set time before pedestrians can get another green. I accept the I'DGO findings on older people feeling more comfortable with signals. I realise this is about people, but in general (and on average) I think the casualty rate at zebras vs (standalone) signals is broadly similar.

  9. I notice that the zebra at the top of Ludgate Hill in front of St Pauls has finally succumbed to "pelicanisation" RIP

    1. Yes, as I recall this was to improve traffic flow (especially buses) being held up by those pesky people walking. Wrong decision in my view.

  10. I would like some new laws in relation to zebra crossings. They have to be lit at night, both crossing and waiting area. Add the zebra crossing median refuge 1.8 metre width requirement and prohibit unnecessary staggers. Cyclists can have priority along with pedestrians, but no hump is required. A zebra across the cycle track only needs the zebra markings, two of them, which can be narrower than for cars, a tactile edge and a flush crossing, either by lowering the curbs, raising the cycle track or a bit of both. All transitions from dropped curb to cycle track or roadway must be flush within 5 mm. Belisha beacons are not required but are recommended, as are the zig zag stripes. A new zebra crossing sign is created and used. It is a blue square with a white equilateral triangle pointed upwards in the centre of the square, with a zebra crossing and pedestrian over it. Like in this diagram: It is distinguishable from a simple warning that pedestrians may be around. Guardrails are prohibited devices except where pedestrian volumes are so high that there is a genuine risk of them falling onto the roadway. Signal controlled crossings are other things I suggest to amend. The maximum wait time is 60 seconds for a pedestrian, and any time that there is a gap in traffic beforehand, the signal for that traffic must go to red and pedestrian to green. pedestrian greens are allowed to conflict with bicycles and left and right turning cars, but the turn movements shall have separate signals after a certain point and up to that point, the conflict must be pointed out with a flashing amber arrow. Pedestrians have the right of way if they appear like they might want to cross or they are crossing at a zebra by the way. Unless controlled by a traffic light, sign or when the speed limit is higher than 20 mph in urban areas and higher than 40 mph in rural areas (I'd convert the UK to metric so that would be 30 km/h and 60 km/h), pedestrians have the right of way when crossing roads, including side roads. The blind always have the right of way, as does anyone with a disability and those with illness that slows them down to a significant extent. Drivers shall be fined at least 500 pounds and given 5 penalty points for failing to give pedestrians the right of way, and shall be given a fine of at least 5000 pounds (both fines increase the higher the income of the offender), shall have their license suspended for at least 2 years and shall be jailed for at least 21 days if they carelessly drive. Aggressive, reckless and dangerous driving nets you at least 6 months in jail, an 8 year driving prohibition, an alcohol prohibition, probation and a 50 thousand pound fine, which increases if you have a higher income.

    1. I think you have signalised crossings conflated with zebras which don't have signals.

  11. I remember an interview with Jan Gehl, who stressed how overengineered urban British streets still are.

    I guess the most inflexible limitation for pedestrian priority is the necessity to equip every crossing, no matter how short or irrelevant, with Belisha beacons, zig-zags, and also those dotted and dashed lines to each side of the stripes.

    It's this against this and it's pretty clear how much more effort, and cost, is involved with the first design. This would also simplify a lot the interaction between pedestrians and cycles, who don't need this overprovision of road markings.

    All in all, British regulations are pretty inflexible and do not allow for much creativity in making urban environments better, which is a pity in these times of rapid change. I can't stand having to push buttons all the time if I'm in the town centre.

    I sense all of this car-centric overengineering madness is starting to crumble however, and not just in this country! :)


  12. Big Fan of this blog and @rantyhighwayman in general.
    Quick question regarding zebra crossings- Is it a requirement to have a belisha beacon installed on the island of a zebra with an island if the lighting is sufficient?

    1. Thanks! The rules are that globes have to be at each end of the crossing (i.e. 2 per crossing as a minimum), but I would always put one on an island to make it clearer that the crossing is actually in two parts.

    2. Thanks for responding.

      I have one more question regarding the configuration of the tactile paving for a zebra crossing on a one way street.

      I understand that even though the direction of traffic is in one direction, the configuration will remain the same and will not be mirrored to indicate one way.

    3. Indeed, the layout stays the same on a one-way street. I thought it might be helpful for the tail to be on the traffic side, but visually impaired users prefer the consistency.