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Pelican crossing providing pedestrian green wave celebrates its 3rd year in operation (Austria)

By Elisabeth Magnes / Updated: 23 Sep 2014
In autumn 2008, the city of Graz implemented a new type of pelican crossing on one of its most pedestrian and cyclist frequented streets. The usual pattern was turned around. Now, cyclists and pedestrians always have the green wave, only if a car approaches does the traffic light turn red.
Before the system was changed, pedestrians had to wait between 60 and 80 seconds in order to cross the street safely, giving priority to car traffic. However, it was discovered that the street was, especially at night and on weekends, more often crossed by pedestrians and cyclists than used by cars. In September 2008, the pelican crossing was changed: when there is less car traffic (at night and on weekends), the traffic lights are constantly green for pedestrians. On work days, the traffic lights change every 40 seconds, this causes a maximum waiting time of 28 seconds for pedestrians and at the same time gives the car traffic enough time to pass.

In 2009, the new pelican crossing was also introduced at another crossing and several other locations are now being considered. The city has so far not recorded any negative effects. It is even claimed that the safety of pedestrians and cyclists has been improved, because they are no longer tempted to cross the street when the traffic light is red. They have also achieved their aim in reducing waiting times for the two mentioned groups, as 70-85% of the time they can now cross without having to wait at all.

A 'pelican crossing' is a type of pedestrian crossing featuring a pair of poles each with a standard set of traffic lights facing oncoming traffic, a push button and two illuminated, coloured men facing the pedestrian from across the road - a red, stationary man to indicate that it is not safe to cross, and a green, walking man to indicate that it is safe to do so. The name is derived from PE-LI-CON, an acronym of pedestrian light controlled. The term pelican crossing originated in the United Kingdom, but is not in frequently used elsewhere, yet similar traffic control devices are in use throughout the world.
Country: 
Austria
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