The British have successfully complicated the simple task of crossing the street as a pedestrian. They have at least five (and counting) different types of crossings, all named for animals.
From Wikipedia we learn…
A pelican crossing, as distinct from a puffin crossing, has the special feature that while the green man flashes to indicate that pedestrians may continue crossing but may not start to cross, the red light changes to an amber flashing light permitting cars to pass if there are no further pedestrians. This reduces the delay to traffic. Also, pelican crossings can be used to enforce local speed limits by detecting the approach speed of the traffic, and setting the traffic lights to red if a speeding violation is detected. This has been found to significantly reduce the incidence of speeding in residential areas.
The name is derived from PELICON, which stands for pedestrian light controlled. The pedestrian signal is located across the street from the pedestrian wishing to cross.
There’s a helpful, catchy song on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGzakfleuC4
if you are in the mood to be entertained in doe-si-doe style. Here are the words:
The Pelican Crossing Song
When the red man’s on, pedestrians wait
‘cause “drivers may go” is what the green light states
Just press the button and you soon learn
The green man’s on and it’s your turn.
And when the green man’s flashing, and the amber too
This is what you’ve got to do:
Pedestrians, don’t start to cross!
Your life’s more important than the time that’s lost!
And drivers just you listen here!
You only go ahead when the crossing’s clear.
When you work and when you drive
obey the Pelican and stay alive!
Puffin Crossings are a newer and more technologically advanced version of the Pelicans. In some areas they are replacing the Pelicans with Puffins. Puffins stands for Pedestrian User-Friendly Interface and has sensors that will cancel the signal if the pedestrian changes his mind and decides not to cross after all. Likewise, it will remain green for the duration that there is someone in the crossing.
photo courtesy of Cambridge Cycling Campaign http://www.camcycle.org.uk/newsletters/71/images/menagerie-cartoon.gif