Skip to contentUnited States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration FHWA Home
Research Home
This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-089
Date: December 1999

Research, Development, and Implementation of Pedestrian Safety Facilities in the United Kingdom


4. Overview of Pedestrian Facilities

4.1 Planning and design

Pedestrian facilities have typically been provided as part of road schemes, or in response to accident problems, or for amenity or economic reasons — usually in town centers. Pedestrians have rarely been catered for as traffic, i.e., their needs assessed and provided for in terms of journey origins, destinations, desire lines, flows, and levels of service.

There is no comprehensive manual on pedestrian facilities for the United Kingdom (although guidelines are currently being produced under the auspices of the IHT). Initial reference points are Transport in the Urban Environment (IHT, 1997), Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DOT, 1995b) and Design Bulletin 32 Layout of Roads in Residential Areas (DOE and DOT, 1992).

All significant new highway schemes, including pedestrian facility schemes, are now supposed to be checked at appropriate design stages by an independent safety audit. The revised safety audit guidelines (IHT, 1996) place greater emphasis on the safety of vulnerable road users and recommend auditors mentally and physically walk the scheme to thoroughly consider it from a pedestrian safety perspective. Safety audit is now well established within the design procedures of UK highway authorities and, from a safety perspective, is considered very beneficial. However, the procedures are narrowly focused and, if applied overzealously, or in isolation, can over-ride broader objectives, such as pedestrian convenience and overall transport policy and urban design objectives.

4.2 Types of pedestrian crossings

The principle types of pedestrian crossings in the United Kingdom are as follows:

(a) Midblock Crossings Without Signal Control (Crosswalks)

Zebra crossing. Indicated by black and white bands painted on the carriageway. Pedestrians on the crossing have priority over vehicles.

Pedestrian refuge island. Consists of kerbing, bollards and signs in the center of the carriageway, enabling pedestrians to cross more easily, in two stages. No pedestrian priority.

Curb build-out. Consists of curbing, bollards, and signs at the edge of the carriageway, reducing the crossing width and making pedestrians more visible to drivers. No pedestrian priority.

Flat-top road hump. A hump usually 75 to 100 mm high designed to reduce vehicle speeds and to enable pedestrians to cross on the level (at grade). No pedestrian priority. The photographs that comprise figure 6 illustrate these features.

Figure 6. Examples of pedestrian facilities in the United Kingdom including zebra crossing, curb build-out, flat-top speed hump, and refuge island.

Figure 6. Examples of pedestrian facilities in the United Kingdom including zebra crossing, curb build-out, flat-top speed hump, and refuge island.

(b) Midblock Crossings With Signal Control

Pelican crossing. Pedestrian light controlled crossing. Activated by pedestrian pushing the button. A "red/green man" signal on far side of the carriageway shows pedestrian when to cross.

Puffin crossing. Pedestrian User-Friendly intelligent crossing. Also activated by the pedestrian pushing a button. Intended as a replacement for the Pelican, it monitors the presence of pedestrians waiting and crossing and lengthens or shortens the crossing time accordingly. The "red/ green man" signal is located on the near side to the pedestrian.

Toucan crossing. "Two can cross." Similar to the Pelican and the Puffin but shared with bicycles. (See figures 7 and 8.)

(c) Pedestrian Phase at Traffic Signals A "red/ green man" signal on far side of the carriageway shows pedestrian when to cross. Activated by pedestrian pushing the button.

Further details on the above crossings are given in the sections that follow.

4.3 Assessment framework for pedestrian crossings

Official guidance on whether a pedestrian crossing should be provided and, if so, what sort of crossing is most suitable, is contained in Local Transport Note 1/95 (DOT, 1995c). This recommends use of an assessment framework. The site should be surveyed approximately 50 m either side of the proposed crossing point and all relevant information recorded, including:

  • Carriageway and footway type and width.
  • Surroundings.
  • Vehicular/pedesrtian flow and composition.
  • Average crossing time and dificulty of crossing.
  • Road accidents.

The crossing options should then be assessed against the relevant factors which are likely to include:

  • Difficulty in crossing.
  • Peak hour vehicle delay.
  • Carriageway capacity.
  • Vehicle speeds.
  • Local representations.
  • Cost.

LTN 1/95 introduced a more comprehensive and flexible assessment procedure than was previously required (DOT, 1987b). It replaces the PV2 criterion where P = pedestrian flow and

Figure7. Signal hardware and pressure sensitive mat at experimental Puffin Crossing.

Figure7. Signal hardware and pressure sensitive mat at experimental Puffin Crossing.



Figure 8. Pedestrians using Puffin Crossing.

Figure 8. Pedestrians using Puffin Crossing.

V = vehicle flow: the general rule was that a Pelican crossing should only be installed if PV2 >1 x 108 (although other factors, such as proximity to a school or hospital, could be taken into account if the PV2 criterion was not met). Although now officially superseded, PV2 remains in day-to-day use and comparison of the methods is interesting.

The planning, design, and installation of pedestrian crossings are prescribed in Local Transport Note 2/95 (DOT, 1995d). This covers all types of at-grade crossing, including pedestrian refuges, Zebra crossings, and various types of signal-controlled crossings. Advice is given in relation to the proximity of junctions, school crossing patrols, visibility, crossing width, guard railing, crossing approach, surfaces, disabled pedestrians, lighting, signing, bus stops, and street furniture. Under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, it is no longer necessary for local highway authorities to obtain approval from the Government for installation or removal of a pedestrian crossings. However, they should consult locally and inform the DETR.

4.4 Relative safety of crossings

It has been shown that providing a pedestrian crossing does not necessarily reduce pedestrian casualties, partly because the crossing may cause changes in levels and type of pedestrian activity. Similarly, it is not possible to say that one type of crossing is safer than another. "Each type has advantages and disadvantages; the type chosen should be appropriate to the circumstances of the site and the demands and behaviour of the road users." (DOT, 1995c)


United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration