Position Paper

On the matter of;


Pedestrian Controlled Signal Crossings




Connor Malone







Traffic signal control at junctions and mid-block facilities provide safe pedestrian crossings of the carriageway. They allow pedestrians, via use of a push button unit, the ability to stop traffic and cross reliably and safely. The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 prescribes the conditions for design of traffic signals. The directives noted include the option of two types of pedestrian signal crossings that are:



Far Sided: Traditionally associated with Pelican crossings. The crossing indicator for pedestrians is located on the opposite side of the road from the pedestrian waiting to cross. It is mounted on a traffic signal pole at approximately 2.4m to the base of the unit and shows red / green man in 200mm diameter signals. Far sided signals are set to timed phases that must be followed before a movement to another phase, it is not variable. This type of crossing layout has been gradually phased out by City of York Council in favour of the alternative near sided.


-       Near Sided: Utilised by the council in Puffin type crossings. The crossing indicator for pedestrians is incorporated into the pushbutton unit on the same side of the road as the pedestrian waiting to cross. These units are mounted at 1.2m to the base of the unit.  High level repeater signals are installed at 1.7m clearance to the base of the unit to allow ease of viewing as at some sites the lower unit may be obscured. On-crossing detectors identify pedestrians in the crossing area and extend or cancel the clearance period. City of York does not use kerbside detectors to cancel pedestrian demand when pedestrians activate the pushbutton then move on.




Position on the matter of pedestrian crossing signal types, namely, far side or near sided preference.

The Council indicates its preference towards the installation of Near Sided signals within any schemes that identify the need for a signalised pedestrian crossing.

The following list is not exhaustive but encompasses the predominant reasons for this stance;


     I.        It is the opinion of the Council that installing one type of pedestrian crossing technology across all of our signal controlled estate helps to ensure pedestrians have an understanding of what to expect at crossings. Blended use can cause confusion as to where a pedestrian is required to look. Uniformity of assets allows for the Road Safety team to have an established message to deliver in their community work.


    II.        Near sided signals installations provide an unambiguous indication to pedestrian and drivers. They also ensure that the pedestrian is looking towards the direction of oncoming traffic. Ambiguity has existed with far sided signals for a number of years as the flashing indicator can cause confusion.


  III.        Near sided signals give pedestrians who have sight impairments generally a better opportunity to see the crossing indicator. York install high level repeaters that ensure more pedestrians are able to see the crossing indicators in busier locations.


  IV.        Use of on-crossing detection assists with pedestrian safety, though variable clearance periods. If there are slow moving or large groups of pedestrians the clearance period is extended.  If pedestrians have already crossed then the clearance period is cancelled and traffic can proceed thus improving efficiency of the transport network.


  V.        The significant majority of sites with York are currently near sided – approximately 75%. To change from near sided signals to far sided signals it would take a minimum of 15 years at the current rate of replacement.