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How to light: pedestrian crossings

August 2017

Once you have decided that a crossing needs lighting, there are three principle issues to consider:

1. Ensuring the crossing is highly visible and distinguishable from the surrounding area.

2. Clear visibility of pedestrians approaching and using the crossing.

3. Minimising glare to drivers.

What you'll need to ensure safety:

1. An asymmetric lighting solution that provides a high vertical illuminance on the pedestrian from the driver’s position.

2. Supplementary lighting that creates a clear contrast between the regular road lighting and the crossing, with clearly defined edges.

3. Adequate lighting for adjacent footways.

The ILP technical report TR12: Lighting of Pedestrian Crossings advises lighting the 'carpet' of the crossing to a higher level than the road, as a guide 3.5 x higher (with a uniformity of 0.6Uo), so that the driver's attention is drawn to this 'band' of light

The technical bits

Luminaires should be installed 1m from the pedestrian crossing and use a low mounting height of 5-6m. As a general rule – the lower the better. 

Luminaires need to be as glare free as possible to ensure maximum visibility through the crossing area, as pedestrians will often try to cross short of the crossing itself. Flat glass luminaires are therefore best.

A contrasting lamp colour from the surrounding road lighting is recommended as an effective way to highlight the carpet, for example white light on the crossing in a high pressure Sodium (SON) road installation. The same effect can be achieved in LED schemes with a simple change in colour temperature.

Finally, the light distribution from the luminaire needs to provide high levels of vertical illuminance onto the crossing pedestrians, to ensure that they are visible to approaching motorists. TR12 recommends three separate vertical calculation planes, covering the width of the crossing to ensure good visibility of the pedestrian.

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Guidance for crossings on traffic routes

The guidance for crossings located on M class roads (motorways and traffic routes) is based on one vertical grid across the entire crossing.

Rather than at three different measured points and one horizontal grid, as per TR12 – guidance for residential roads.

There are no BS or CEN standards covering crossings on these roads. 

As such the levels aimed for on these grids are determined by European best practice which generally agrees that the levels should be:

  • Average vertical illuminance on this axis of pedestrian crossing at a height of 1m: Ev ≥ 40 lux
  • Uniformity of vertical illuminance on lane in front of the driver (Uo): 0.20
  • Average horizontal illuminance on pedestrian crossing at ground level: E ≥ 80 lux
  • Uniformity of horizontal illuminance (Uo): 0.30

Such situations are rare in the UK, but worth including as you may encounter them for European schemes.

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What products should you use?

Our Diamond+ optical system includes three light distributions specifically designed for pedestrian crossings. Many of our luminaires can be specified with our Diamond+ Z Optic, providing a variety of styles to match the aesthetics of luminaires used elsewhere on the scheme.

Our Zebra crossing optics have been designed to deliver visual comfort for both motorists and pedestrians. Offered in both symmetric or asymmetric light distributions, they can highlight pedestrians on the crossing as well as illuminating pedestrians waiting to cross. With good cut-off to emphasise the carpet and make it more prominent to approaching traffic.


Reference material

Please refer to the following publications for full requirements on lighting pedestrian crossings:

  • BS EN 13201-2: 2003 Road Lighting Part 2: Annex B
  • BS5489-1:2003 Code of practice for the design of road lighting Part 1: Lighting of roads and public amentity areas, section 11.5
  • ILP Technical Report 12 Lighting of Pedestrian Crossings