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Zebra crossing

Cover of The Beatles' album Abbey Road, showing the band walking over a British Zebra crossing
A zebra crossing is a type of pedestrian crossing, characterised by stripes (hence the term, named after the zebra) on the road, parallel to the flow of the traffic, alternatingly a light color (usually white) and a dark one (black, or, if the road surface itself is of a dark color, just that). The stripes are 40 - 50 cm wide. The crossings were originally marked by beacons (see below) and parallel rows of studs, but stripes were soon added for the sake of visibility.

In the United Kingdom the crossing is marked with beacons on either side of the road, called Belisha beacons, These are the black and white poles topped by flashing orange globes. They are named after Leslie Hore-Belisha the Minister of Transport who introduced them in 1934. Pedestrians have right of way on this kind of crossing once they have put a foot upon it, cars then have to stop and give way, if they can do so safely.

This is in contrast to a similar crossing, known as a pelican crossing (Pedestrian Light Controlled), which is marked with traffic lights for the vehicles and a green and red man lighting up to show pedestrians when to cross and when to stay. Pedestrians only have right of way here when the green man is lit. Pelican crossing were first introduced in the early 1970s and in many places have completely have replaced zebra crossings.

In the United States, these are called "crosswalks," and pedestrians in the crosswalk will typically cross on being signalled from the opposite corner. When there is no signal present, pedestrians in the crosswalk have right of way and cars must stop. In place of the red and green men, US crosswalks have signs which read "WALK" or "DON'T WALK", or alternatively a walking man and a restraining hand respectively.

Other similar crossings in the UK include: puffin (Pedestrian User-Friendly Interface), toucan (Two Can cross - a joint pedestrian and bicycle crossing) and pegasus (for horses, usually outside race courses).

A zebra crossing famously appears on the cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road album (see image). This is probably the world's most famous zebra crossing, and has even been incorporated into the current Abbey Road Studios logo. However, since the Abbey Road photo was taken, zigzag lines at the kerb and in the centre of the road have been added to all zebra crossings to indicate the no-waiting zones on either side.