Pelican and Puffin Crossings

Transport written question – answered on 6th June 2005.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research he has commissioned on the effectiveness of (a) pelican and (b) puffin crossings.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Pelican crossings were introduced in 1969. We have no recent studies of their effectiveness but studies into the effects of converting a zebra to a pelican crossing, comparisons of pedestrian crossings, and the comparative safety of pedestrian crossings were conducted in the years following their introduction. Reports are available from TRL Limited (formerly the Transport Research Laboratory).

Research carried out by the Transport and Research Laboratory for my Department in 1992 following the introduction of new puffin crossing estimated an average net benefit of approximately £10,000 per site per annum through reduced vehicle delays, giving an overall benefit across the country of about £50 million, if installations were to take place at all sites.

The Highways Agency commissioned work from the London Accident Analysis Unit in 1996 to carry out a comparative accident study at five pelican crossing conversions to puffins. The investigations found that puffin was no worse than a pelican crossing but in some cases it was better in terms of accidents involving pedestrians.

Further research has been commissioned by the Department for Transport to examine the effectiveness of puffin crossings at six sites and the effect of the new crossing on pedestrian and driver behaviour. This work will conclude by the end of this year.

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John Hemming MP
Posted on 9 Jun 2005 10:13 pm (Report this annotation)

Important to pedestrians

Richard Johnson
Posted on 11 Jun 2005 8:58 pm (Report this annotation)

For the uninitiated, Puffin crossings are supposed to detect whether there are pedestrians waiting or not before changing colour. They also respond more quickly to a button press. They thus avoid the problem of pressing the button and waiting for ages before the lights change. And avoid the lights changing when no pedestrians are waiting, so cars don't have to stop before empty crossings.

They are a good idea, despite the technology not being perfect. But I really don't like the way that the "green man" display is on the near side post at about shoulder level - rather than on the opposite side at eye level. I inevitably find that people are standing in the way so that I can't see the display. Very annoying. I wonder if the placing of this display compromises their effectiveness in reducing accidents and whether the quoted research is examining this.