A Pelican crossing is a traditional type of controlled crossing that has been about for decades. It can be identified as having traffic lights for driving road users, yellow wait boxes, studs on the ground (helping blind people know they are there), an electronic red and green man that is visible to pedestrians and zigzag lines.
A pedestrian will approach a Pelican crossing, press the yellow wait box and wait for the green man to appear.
When the button is pressed it can take a few seconds and then the amber light will appear first telling the road users to stop if it’s safe to do so. Then all road users should stop once the red light is facing them.
At this stage a green man appears for the pedestrians to tell them it’s safe to cross. On some crossings there is also a beeping noise too (this is to help blind people know how much time they have to cross).
As a road user you should wait patiently, ideally with the handbrake up waiting for all pedestrians to finish. Next will appear the flashing amber lights.
The flashing amber lights indicates to go if the crossing is clear or wait if there are people still using the crossing no matter which side of the road they are on.
A good way to think of the flashing amber lights is to treat it like a green light if the crossing is clear or treat it like a red light if people are still on the crossing.
Once it is clear to go and the light is either flashing amber or green then it is safe to drive on.
The main problem with Pelican crossings is that when the light goes red for the road users and the green man appears the crossing is controlled by a secret timer. So if there are lots of people trying to use the crossing then they may find themselves on the crossing when the light has turned green for the road users.
This has been an issue for a number of years. One way the local councils have dealt with the problem is by putting visible timers so pedestrians can try to calculate if they have enough time to complete the crossing or not.
Another improvement that was made is the introduction of Puffin crossings which we will go into further details on another article.