It’s a Jungle Out There! Pedestrian Crossings Explained.

It’s a Jungle Out There! Pedestrian Crossings Explained.

I’m certain that many of us car drivers are guilty of driving across a zebra crossing without giving way to the pedestrians who were waiting. I know I am! But do all of us know the different types of crossings, how to use them and what they mean?

One of my favourite lessons to teach is the pedestrian crossing lesson. As I explain the different types of crossing to each student, I always enjoy the understanding that becomes apparent as I explain why each of them is known by an animal.

So, why is this? I shall explain!

Zebra Crossings  – it’s pretty obvious why these are so-called. It’s the black and white stripes that give it away! With a zebra crossing comes the belisha beacon, an amber light that flashes on top of a pole. This is to help the crossings be seen – particularly at night – as the black and white stripes aren’t always visible, especially when it rains. Traffic is legally obliged to give way to waiting pedestrians.

Pelican Crossings – this stands for PEdestrian LIght CONtrolled (yes, yes, I know that c-a-n is not the correct spelling, but let’s not split hairs, eh?!). This is the only traffic light in the highway code with a flashing amber phase. When the green man light flashes for pedestrians, so the amber flashes for the traffic. The flashing phase for the pedestrian means finish crossing but don’t start to (although, we know that isn’t always the case!) and the flashing phase for traffic means you may proceed if it is safe and clear.

Puffin Crossings – are Pedestrian User FFriendly INtelligent. This is because they have an infrared camera to detect pedestrians on or waiting at the crossing. The traffic uses these lights as usual traffic light phases.

Toucan Crossings – this means TWO CAN cross! Not only is there a pedestrian crossing but next to it the cycle lane crosses the road meaning they can cycle across (they are supposed to dismount on normal pedestrian crossings). These are similar to Puffins.

Pegasus Crossings – so-called because the button is higher up the pole meaning the horserider doesn’t have to dismount. Again similar to toucans and puffins.

There is also the school crossing to consider. In places, this is controlled by a Lollipop man or lady. When they hold their sign out then you are legally obliged to stop and give way to school children and their parents crossing the road. If you don’t, then the Lollipop person does have the power to report you to the police.

One final thing to consider is the zig zag lines leading up to the crossing. Traffic is not supposed to park or overtake on these, its dangerous! It may mean that you can’t see the pedestrian or vice-versa and makes it very difficult. I distinctly remember driving through Guildford one day and seeing a taxi driver pull up on the zig zags to drop off a customer. Two cars behind him was a police car who pulled up alongside the taxi driver and gave him a right rollicking! In Sunninghill, where my daughter goes to school and I also teach, people consistently park their vehicles on the zig zags making it extremely dificult for other road users! I really wish they wouldn’t!

Do you have a pedestrian crossing story? I would love to hear it, and may very well use it as a teaching aid for my students!

If you live in the Berkshire/Surrey/Hampshire area and looking for a a Driving Instructor then try me! My website is

Next week: Its’s all about Motorcyclists (of which, I am one!)

Don’t forget Road Safety Week in association with Brake the road safety charity is 19th until 25th November 2012.







  1. Julian
    November 7, 2013 / 5:50 pm

    Are you aware that sometimes a Zebra crossing has kerbstone around four inches high stretching approx. 18 inches out into the road immediately alongside the walkway ? I hit one at 25mph last night in the dark / rain, new tyre ruined & alloy wheel damaged – maybe more damage.

  2. November 9, 2012 / 10:07 am

    Fascinating! Pegasus crossing – who knew? Now, my question is this. My partner reckons that some traffic lights, especially in rural areas or temp lights at roadworks, have sensors on so that if you flash your lights at them (when they are red) as you approach, they’ll turn green, so you don’t have to wait around for ages when there’s no traffic. True or false, oh traffic control guru??

    • Victoria
      November 10, 2012 / 3:40 pm

      Your partner is ‘sort of’ right in the fact that the lights do have sensors on them so that they don’t permanently stay on red if there is no traffic sitting on the other side BUT flashing your lights makes no difference! So, it is half true, half false! 😉 x

  3. November 5, 2012 / 9:25 pm

    Wow, i knew the first 2 however i am gobsmacked i didn’t know anything about the Pegasus, Toucan & Puffin!!

    My driving instructor never even gave me a lesson on crossings!!

    Thank you for posting i am off to bed far more informed. 🙂

    • Victoria
      November 5, 2012 / 10:46 pm

      Glad to be of assistance! 🙂 x

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