Belisha beacon

Belisha beacon

A Belisha beacon is a flashing orange globe atop a tall black and white pole. They appear on either side of the road at zebra crossings in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in the former British crown colonies of Singapore and Hong Kong. They are named after Leslie Hore-Belisha (1895-1957), the Minister of Transport who introduced them in 1934.

Their function is to provide additional visibility to zebra crossings for motorists, primarily at night. The flash commonly lasts one second in both on and off states. Some crossings are set so that each beacon flashes alternately to the other side, but they often fall out of synchronisation over time.

International prominence

In New Zealand, the standard for pedestrian crossings specified in the Traffic Regulations requires such a device, or an orange non-illuminated equivalent, atop a black and white pole at each side of the crossing.

Brisbane, Queensland Australia briefly had a small number of Belisha beacon marked crossings in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but the majority of Australian crossings are zebra crossings marked by large yellow circular signs bearing a walking legs symbol.

In Australia, recent years have seen a proliferation of various kinds of beacons and bollards, illuminated, reflective or otherwise designed for high visibility at pedestrian crossings, to which the name Belisha or "Bellisher" is occasionally erroneously applied. These high-visibility crossing markers are often placed on refuge islands in the middle of the road, in addition to or instead of at the roadside. Many of these new crossings are signposted that pedestrians must give way to traffic.

In recent years the number of zebra crossings and Belisha beacons, has fallen in the northern counties of England, being replaced by pelican crossings or puffin crossings, with pedestrian-controlled traffic signals; a waiting pedestrian can stop vehicular traffic by pressing a button and waiting for the pedestrian signal of a red and green man to change to green. The green man can be accompanied by a green bicycle to indicate that the crossing is designated for pedestrians and cyclists.

In the Republic of Ireland, Belisha beacons are usually accompanied by much higher visibility dual flashing amber traffic lights on either side. Some zebra crossings have only these rather than Belisha beacons.

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