Irish councils can now roll out zebra crossings without expensive beacons

City and county councils can now roll out zebra crossings without expensive Belisha beacons after a trial found different options to be safe and effective.

The Belisha beacons will still be an option depending on the situation, but now so too will continental-style zebra crossing signs with the addition of a fluorescent high-vis border, and, for low-speed environments, the option of raised zebra crossings with just painted markings.

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The Traffic Signs Advice Note on Zebra Pedestrian Crossings outlines how the three options can be used. Type A is the existing widely used zebra crossing design with flashing beacons.

The first new option for zebra crossing is called Type B and includes the use of the sign pictured in the above images. This option must only be used on roads and streets where the speed limit is 50km/h and the 85th percentile speed is less than 50km/h, in other words, where there are only low levels of speeding.

It recommends that a raised crossing is used, but such is not mandatory. Raised crossings are widely seen as safer, but local authorities vary on their use.

The guidelines outline that the option with signs is suitable for roads or streets with volumes of traffic less than 500 vehicles per hour without a refuge island, or 750 vehicles per hour with a refuge island.

The option without any beacons or signs, called Type C, must be used with a raised crossing, only where the speed limit is 30 km/h, and there must be only one lane in each direction.

David O’Grady, principal adviser at the Regional and Local Roads Division of the Department of Transport said that working with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) pilot schemes assessed the use of zebra crossings without Belisha beacons.

In a letter to councils, O’Grady said: “The objective of the pilot schemes was to increase the number of safe crossing locations for pedestrians and active travel use in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. By providing an alternative to the flashing beacons, new crossings could be quickly and easily implemented without the need for electricity connections and therefore reduce installation costs, construction time and ongoing operational costs.”

“Following the conclusion of the pilot studies, it is recommended to introduce two new zebra crossing
configurations for use under certain specified criteria. The first configuration includes a new sign RUS066, which can be used in lieu of belisha beacons at zebra crossings. The second configuration utilises the crossing without a sign in certain situations with tighter specified criteria,” he said.

A sign without a high-vis background is also in the supporting legislation and also part of the trial, but it did not make it into the guidelines as a usable option.

Councils have been told that the 600mm sign included in the Type B options includes a fluorescent yellow border and this differs from normal high-vis or yellow backing board used sometimes to alert motorists to signs such as yield signs.

The guidelines note: “This fluorescent border may not be used around any other sign, nor may any backing board be manufactured using this colour. Where this occurs, Local Authorities will be asked to remove them as this colour and border has been designed for a specific purpose and to use them outside of their intended purpose will dilute their effectiveness in their intended use situations and potentially compromise safety.”

An extract from the new guidance:

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  1. So can we start rolling type C out at every junction in every 30kmh housing estate in the country, including those currently in planning for the developers to install same prior to taking in charge?

    Can we also rapidly install the type B on every location of existing “courtesy crossings”, every side road junction on streets in our towns and villages with <=50kmh limits?

    In other words, there is no longer an impediment to widespread roll-out of these across the entire country. We have to do something to take back some of the position of motorist dominance that has developed here.

  2. This is welcome news. My only gripe is did they have to make the whole crossing assembly so dam ugly? Fluorescent yellow signs and black and white striped posts is not the standard in many European countries (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, etc. etc.) so why is the continental standard arrangement not good enough for Ireland? Engineers are often guilty of destroying the appearance of streets with over zealous application of the Traffic Sign Manual and this new intiative is not helping the matter.


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