Local Highway Improvements (LHI)’s are delivered by the County Council on a joint funded basis and applicants can apply for funding of up to either £25,000 for complex projects or £10,000 for non-complex projects, as a contribution to their scheme. The applicant is expected to provide a minimum contribution of 10% towards the total scheme cost.

The two major types of crossing offered by Cambridgeshire County Council are listed below along with a crossing alternative:

  • Puffin and Toucan crossings are traffic signal controlled and are the most expensive to install and maintain. These type of crossings are only considered when there is a high demand for pedestrians and / or cyclists to cross a busy section of road.
  • Zebra crossings are most common within Cambridgeshire and offer a cheaper alternative. There still needs to be a good demand for pedestrians wanting to cross the road to contribute to its safe operation.

Puffin and toucan crossings (Complex)

Puffin and Toucan Crossings
Puffin and Toucan Crossings

Puffin crossings use traffic lights to stop vehicle traffic, allowing pedestrians to cross. Pedestrians push a button at the side of the road, and wait for a signal to cross - this is from a standing red man to a walking green man.

Puffin crossings are a modern crossing design which have the pedestrian demand button and pedestrian signal (green/red man) in the same place, on a pole at the near side of the road. The kerbs are dropped at both ends of the crossing with tactile paving where the pavement slopes towards the road.

Puffin crossings have sensors to detect if there are pedestrians waiting at the side of the road to cross. This allows the Puffin crossing to cancel the crossing demand, as it won't be needed if the pedestrians are no longer there. Another sensor is used to extend the crossing time if necessary, by checking/monitoring for pedestrians still in the crossing area.

Puffin crossings are similar to Pelican crossings, which are much older in design and no longer installed in Cambridgeshire. Pelican crossings have the pedestrian signal at the opposite side of the road; do not have any pedestrian sensors; and have a flashing light phase at the end of the crossing time.

Puffin crossings can become Toucan crossings by adding a bicycle symbol to the red/green crossing man, and increasing the crossing width. This means cyclists are allowed to ride across the crossing without having to dismount.

Usability

Puffing crossings reduce the chance of pedestrians feeling uncomfortable while they are crossing, because a red light should always be shown to vehicle users when somebody is crossing, even if they are crossing slowly.

Safety

Compared to Pelican crossings, Puffin crossings are safer to use because they do not have a phase where the amber light flashes to vehicle users, and green man flashes to pedestrians. This phase causes confusion to both vehicle users and pedestrians. Puffin crossings do not use this phase, and show either green or red crossing signals to pedestrians.

It's more difficult to compare Puffin crossings to Zebra crossings because there is less research. It is most likely that Puffin crossings are very similar to Zebra crossings in safety, or Zebra crossings are only marginally less safe.

Advantages of Puffin crossings

  • Pedestrians given a clear signal of when to cross
  • Vehicle users given a clear signal of when to stop for pedestrians
  • Crossing times are automatically extended for slower pedestrians - e.g. elderly or disabled people
  • Vehicle users should never have to stop when nobody is using the crossing
  • Pedestrians never have to wait too long to cross
  • Can help maintain vehicle traffic flow in busy pedestrian areas where a Zebra crossing would cause traffic delays

Disadvantages of a Puffin crossing

  • Puffin crossings are the most expensive type of crossing
  • Pedestrians must wait for the signal before crossing, whereas it may take considerably less time to cross at a Zebra crossing
  • Pedestrians may walk into the road when the signal changes without checking vehicle traffic has come to a complete stop
  • May be less attractive than other crossing types, which are less obtrusive in smaller streets with narrow pavements
  • Other pedestrians may obscure the view of the pedestrian crossing light located on the nearside of the road
  • Expensive to install and maintain

Restrictions

  • Puffin crossings cannot be installed within 20 metres of a junction or roundabout
  • Traffic light signals must be visible to approaching vehicles
  • The beeping sound heard at Puffin crossings may cause a noise problem for any nearby houses. However, the beeping noise can work to a timer, and only operate at certain hours of the day.
  • This scheme requires a Traffic Regulation Order and a Road Safety Audit

Cost of installation

  • £125,000 and above depending on site specifics.

Zebra crossing (Complex)

Zebra Crossing
Zebra Crossing

Zebra crossings help pedestrians cross from one side of the road to the other. They have white strips painted onto the road in the crossing area, with flashing yellow lights at both sides of the road on black and white striped poles. The kerbs are dropped at both ends of the crossing with tactile paving where the pavement slopes towards the road. White zig-zag lines are painted on the approach to the crossing to signify the controlled zone where vehicles must not stop to ensure maximum visibility between pedestrians and approaching drivers. Stopping within the limits of a zebra crossing controlled area is an offence enforced by the Police.

Vehicle users are required to stop when they see a pedestrian waiting at the edge of a zebra crossing to allow them to cross the road.

Usability

Compared to locations without crossings, pedestrians are able to cross the road more quickly with Zebra crossings. On busy roads, with a continuous vehicle traffic flow, Zebra crossings could allow crossing when it would be nearly impossible. Children find zebra crossings particularly beneficial because they find it difficult to judge the speed of traffic when crossing on their own without crossing facilities. The elderly also benefit more from zebra crossings because without a crossing the road might require them to move very quickly to cross, and this may be difficult for them.

Compared to locations where there was no crossing, new zebra crossings have a very positive impact on pedestrian's feelings about crossing the road. Pedestrians are more confident, and feel safer when crossing the road.

Safety

Zebra crossings do not introduce any additional danger to the road environment. In comparison to Puffin crossings, it is most likely that Zebra crossings are very similar in safety, or zebra crossings are only marginally less safe. If many pedestrians are already crossing at a certain point on a road (the ‘desire line'), it is likely a zebra crossing will not increase or decrease accidents.

Zebra crossings over three or more lanes of traffic will increase collisions. This may be because at roads with two lanes in the same direction, pedestrians can be invisible to motorists in the outside lane when a car on the inside lane is stopping at the zebra crossing.

Advantages of a Zebra crossing

  • Pedestrians should only have to wait for a very short period of time to cross the road. The first car to see the pedestrian that can stop safely should stop and let the pedestrian cross.
  • Typically half the price of a traffic light (puffin) crossing
  • Can look more attractive than a traffic light (puffin) crossing, which could be too obtrusive on smaller streets with narrow pavements
  • Lower maintenance cost

Disadvantages of a Zebra crossing

  • If a pedestrian crossing the road is expecting a driver to stop, but they fail to do so, there may be a collision. Many pedestrians wait for cars to stop before they walk into the road.
  • Sometimes, drivers do not stop when they see a pedestrian waiting at the side of the road
  • Blind or partially blind people find Zebra crossings harder to use than traffic light crossings
  • A Zebra crossing which includes a hump or narrowing of the road will require water drainage works, which could be very costly
  • The restrictions on parking either side may add pressure to on-street parking capacity
  • Majority of schemes will require surfacing the approaches to the crossing to achieve suitable skid resistance

Restrictions

  • Zebra crossings must be installed in locations where vehicle users have good visibility of waiting pedestrians. There must be no obstacles (e.g. trees) on the pavement to block the view of pedestrians. The location should not have tight corners or steep hills.
  • Cannot be installed within 5 metres of a junction or roundabout
  • The pavement must be wide enough to make it clear to motor vehicle drivers that pedestrians are waiting at the edge of the road to cross
  • This scheme requires a Traffic Regulation Order and a Road Safety Audit
  • If a suitable location is found but the work requires a large number of ground workers to install, costs could potentially increase

Cost of installation

  • £48,000

The zebra crossing costs allow for 40m of carriageway resurfacing on either approach, installed under a road closure. There is no provision for drainage or street lighting

Zebra halos (Non-complex)

Zebra crossing
Zebra crossing with illuminated beacons

Zebra crossing beacons (or, 'Belisha Beacons') can be upgraded using flashing LED lights to increase their visibility to drivers. The LED lights automatically become darker at night, so that vehicle drivers are not dazzled, and people in any nearby houses are not disturbed.

In direct sunlight, the flashing effect of traditional style beacons can be very difficult to see, however the flashing LED lights should be clearly visible at all times.

Effectiveness

In some locations, local people complain that drivers do not give way to pedestrians waiting at zebra crossings. Increasing the visibility of zebra beacons will help drivers to see the crossing, which may mean they are more likely to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross the road.

It is important to note that this upgrade may only be useful for drivers who did not recognise the crossing because:

  • it wasn't obvious enough amongst other lamp posts or signs in the street
  • they were not paying proper attention to the road – more obvious beacons may attract their attention

Other drivers might see a pedestrian waiting at a crossing, and deliberately fail to stop. A zebra crossing with a raised top (like a speed table) may be more effective at getting drivers to give way to pedestrians.

Advantages of zebra crossing upgrades

  • Increases visibility of the crossing beacon to vehicle drivers
  • Probably the cheapest way to increase the safety of a crossing, compared to other options
  • Requires very little maintenance

Disadvantages of zebra crossing upgrades

  • Not a traditional style Belisha beacon, which is very familiar to road users

Restrictions

  • Upgrade is subject to the approval of Cambridgeshire County Council

Cost of installation

  • £7,000

It should be noted that the County Council's appointed lighting provider doesn’t maintain halos, therefore if the halos fail or are damaged they will be replaced with a standard illuminated Belisha beacon.

Raised crossings (Complex)

Raised pedestrian crossing table
Raised pedestrian crossing

Raised crossings can increase safety for pedestrians because most drivers feel they have to slow down for these type of features.

Raised crossings have a flat top which is usually level with the footway, and tactile paving is used at each end of the crossing. If a zebra crossing is raised, the white stripes are painted across the flat top. There is a ramp leading up and down each side of the crossing for motor vehicles.

Effectiveness

Raised crossings combine traffic calming treatments with pedestrian crossings. This encourages drivers to travel at their slowest at the same point where pedestrians are crossing. It is one of the best ways to maximise crossing safety for pedestrians.

Raised crossings are very similar to speed tables. Speed tables are more effective than road narrowing at slowing motor vehicle traffic. Speed tables are, in fact, the most effective way to slow down motor vehicle traffic.

Advantages of raised crossings

  • Encourages drivers to reduce speed at the same point where pedestrians are crossing the road
  • Safer and easier for pedestrians with mobility issues
  • Highlights the location of the crossing point

Disadvantages of raised crossings

  • Raised crossings can cause discomfort for bus passengers
  • Managing water drainage could be complex and costly
  • Emergency vehicles will need to reduce their speed for a raised crossing
  • Can encourage drivers to change route to avoid traffic calming, possibly ‘rat running’ through residential streets

Restrictions

  • May be unacceptable on a busy bus route
  • Highways Engineers must check if other roads in the area are suitable to carry extra traffic
  • Requires Traffic Regulation Order and a Road Safety Audit
  • A six metre raised table is required for roads that are bus routes or known HGV routes (due to the length of the vehicles). This will be more expensive to install.

Cost of installation

  • £35,000

The raised crossing cost is based on a 6 metre wide table on a 7.3 metre carriageway, installed under a road closure. No allowance has been made for additional street lighting, electrical connections, or drainage

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