Case Studies

UK: Pedestrian-Detecting Signals

The United Kingdom had two main types of pedestrian signal treatments: Puffin signals and Pelican signals. A Pelican signal treatment consisted of a nearside push button to trigger the walk phase, a standard timed walk phase based on the street length and average walking pace, and a farside pedestrian signal that beamed a green light for pedestrians to cross and flashed orange when it was no longer safe for pedestrians to start crossing. Puffin signals consisted of nearside pedestrian signals, crosswalk pedestrian detectors to extend the crossing period if pedestrians are still on the crosswalk, and curbside detectors to cancel the pedestrian phase if there are no waiting pedestrians. The nearside signal also included sound and tactile indicators for pedestrians with disabilities.

The U.K. Department for Transport compared accident frequencies at intersections with Puffin signals with those using Pelican signals. The study reviewed 40 mid-block crossing and 10 intersection crossings where no other significant changes were made except for converting the crossing facility to Puffin signal treatment. The study found that injury-causing accident rates fell by 17% at mid-block sites and by 19% at all studied sites. It also found that pedestrian accidents fell by 24% and vehicle accidents fell by 16% at those locations.  The U.K. Department for Transport has since made the Puffin signal treatment standard for intersections and mid-block crossings.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.