On this day 54 years ago, Transport Minister Ernest Marples unveiled the very first Panda Crossing on York Road, just outside Waterloo Station in London. He and the Mayor of Lambeth were the first to cross it, with the Mayor carrying a cuddly toy panda. From the very beginning it was poorly received. It ticked every box on the government’s wish list, but the problem was that it was absurdly complicated to use, with convoluted sequences of flashing and pulsating lights, some steady and some getting faster. Read more at Chris’s British Road Directory, and BBC’s article of that day entitled New pedestrian crossings cause chaos.
Roughly a year before, in June 1961, BBC had reported that Panda would replace Zebra at road crossing in April the following year.
You may also be interested in this article marking the 50th anniversary of the short lived Panda Crossing experiment which would disappear just five years later.
Additionally, you may find the following articles interesting:
- Puffins, Pelicans, and Toucans: The Delightful Names of British Crosswalks
- Zebras, Puffins, Pelicans or Hawks for Pedestrians?
- Pedestrian Crossing Signs Throughout History
According to Encyclopædia Britannica Blog, other animal-themed crossings on British streets include:
Zebra crossing: a crossing with black and white stripes stretching across the width of the road.
Pelican crossing: a crossing that involves button-operated traffic lights to direct pedestrians and cars alike (little green man appears on the opposite side of the road).
Puffin crossing: button-operated lights and curb-side sensors for pedestrians (little green man appears in the box on the near side of the road).
Toucan crossing: a crossing that lets bicycles cross the road as well as pedestrians (two-can cross).
Pegasus crossing: a crossing specially designed for horse riders. A separate button is placed two-metres above the ground for mounted riders and has a little green horse and rider instead (named after the mythical winged horse).
Tiger crossing: a yellow and black striped crossing that allowed pedestrians and cyclists to cross. A few were tried in the UK but replaced with toucan crossings.