Shropshire Council

Pedestrian facilities for people with disabilities

We always seek to balance the community’s diverse needs. That said, it's recognised that unlike some services which can be tailored to an individual’s specific requirements, a facility like a pedestrian crossing cannot. Facilities provided for some groups may be less desirable for others. For example, flush drop kerbs provided for wheelchair users make locating the edge of the carriageway more difficult for a pedestrian with a visual impairment. The tactile paving installed to overcome this is itself a problem for a number of wheelchair users. There are locations where it's not practical to provide tactile paving, and in such instances the kerb would generally not be flush.

The following paragraphs describe the facilities provided at traffic signal-controlled pedestrian crossings, to assist people with specific disabilities:

Audible signal

An audible tone, often referred to as a bleeper, sounds when the pedestrian green man signal is illuminated, and indicates that it's safe to start to cross the road. Care is still required as vehicles may still be in the crossing area if the road is congested or blocked for any reason. After the audible signal has stopped there will always be sufficient time for pedestrians to finish crossing the road before traffic restarts.

At some sites it may not be possible to install an audible signal. This is usually because of the close proximity of another crossing point that operates at a different time. At locations near houses, the audible signal will be switched off between the 9pm and 7:30am. In the absence of an audible tone, pedestrians with a visual impairment are able to verify the operation of the crossing using tactile cones.

Tactile cones

These small cones are fitted underneath the right hand side of the pedestrian push button boxes in the right-hand corner. They have a lightly roughened surface and rotate when the green man operates to indicate it's safe to cross. Their provision helps those with an auditory as well as a visual impairment.

Since April 2002, tactile cones have been a requirement for all new crossings regardless of whether or not they have an audible signal. In Shropshire, all of the pre-2002 crossings have also been fitted with both an audible signal and tactile cones.

Textured (blister) paving and crossing points

Red coloured, textured paving is installed at controlled crossings where the footway has been dropped flush with the carriageway. Its purpose is to warn visually impaired pedestrians that it's a controlled type crossing, and where the edge of the carriageway is.

The tactile surface comprises rows of five-millimetre, flat-topped blisters, usually laid in an 'L' shape, with the bottom of the 'L' at the crossing point and the stem going to the back of the footway. Following the leading edge of the stem guides a pedestrian to the pole with the push button.

At crossings or junctions with a central island, tactile paving would normally only be provided if pedestrians are expected to cross the road in two halves. Where a pedestrian is intended to cross in one movement, tactile paving is omitted on the island.

Crossings are designed as far as possible to maintain adequate footway width for wheelchair users to easily manoeuvre to use the crossing. On narrow footways, this may mean positioning the pole and push button at the back of the footway because positioning it in the standard position would impede wheelchair access. In these circumstances the tactile paving won't guide pedestrians to the push button.

Poles and push buttons

At older installations (including pelican crossings), pedestrian signals are located at the same height as the vehicle signals, and directed towards the opposite side of the crossing. More recently, far-sided signals have been replaced by puffin near-side pedestrian units that encompass both a push button and a red and green man signal. These nearside units are aligned to encourage pedestrians to face oncoming traffic, and are positioned sufficiently close to the tactile paving to allow all users who could reasonably be expected to use the crossing point to reach it easily.

All new installations are to be designed to incorporate all the features of puffin crossings, and therefore with each new installation you'll see near-sided pedestrian units installed.

Time to cross

Pedestrians sometimes express concern that there's insufficient time to safely cross the road before the end of the green man/audible signal. This period of time is set to enable a pedestrian to safely commence crossing the road. It starts at the end of the green man/audible signal period and allows a pedestrian ample time to complete the crossing before priority returns to road traffic.

At pelican crossings, a flashing green man/flashing vehicle amber signal follows the steady green man/audible signal, and drivers may not proceed while a pedestrian is in the carriageway. At older junctions with far-side signals, the green man signal is extinguished for a period before the red man is illuminated. During this black-out period traffic is held at a red signal.

At puffin crossings, a red man immediately follows the end of the green man signal. This is intended to stop pedestrians starting to cross, but traffic continues to be held at a red signal while pedestrians remain in the carriageway. Detectors monitor the movement of pedestrians on the crossing and extend time up to a maximum, to enable pedestrians to safely reach the opposite footway.