Pelican crossing

Pelican crossing

A pelican crossing is a type of pedestrian crossing featuring a standard set of traffic lights with a push button and two coloured lamps for pedestrians using the crossing. The official name is Pelicon crossing (short for PEdestrian LIght CONtrolled crossing) but pelican is consistent with other crossing types (see below) named after animals and, in particular, birds. The term pelican crossing is used only in the United Kingdom and Ireland, but similar traffic control devices are in use throughout the world.

The pelican crossing was the first definitive light controlled crossing in the UK, introduced in 1969, after the earlier failed experiment of the panda crossing. Previously only zebra crossings had been used, which have warning signals (Belisha beacons), but no control signals. The pedestrian lights are situated on the far side of the road to the pedestrian. A puffin crossing has the lights on the same side as the pedestrian; a toucan crossing is a crossing for pedestrians and bicycles; a pegasus crossing allows horse-riders to cross as well.

Pelican type crossings sometimes have further non-visual indication that it is safe to cross, such as a beep, vibrating button or tactile rotating cone in order to assist blind or partially sighted pedestrians.


  • The History of British Roadsigns, Dept. for Transport, 2nd Edition, 1999.

A button on a pelican crossing has to be pressed whereas traffic lights work on a timer.

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