The green man is no more. Sexual equality has arrived!

pedestrian lights

I just couldn’t believe it!

I was so shocked I had to back and check!

What on earth is the world coming to?

They used to be gas

Concern for crossing the road safely is not a recent phenomenon. The first  traffic lights were installed in London in 1868 and were manually operated. It was not a good job to have as they were gas-lit and given to exploding, causing injury and at times even death to the operator. It was not until 1910 when the first patent for first automated traffic control system was applied for and agreed. Since then traffic has continued to grow and our streets would be even more dangerous than they are.


It’s all about flow

The positioning of lights  that change colour at road junctions and intersections are used across the world and are known by a variety of names – Traffic lights, traffic signals, traffic lamps, traffic semaphore, signal lights, stop lights, (in South African English) robots. 

Technically they are Traffic Control Signals and that gives away their purpose. They were not originally anything to do with pedestrians and their safety. They were about making sure the traffic flowed as efficiently as possible.  


Add the people

Nowadays, pedestrian lights are an integral part of traffic signals as they are as much about those walking along the pavements and roads as the cars that drive along them. We are all used to the boxes that tell us when it is safe to cross the road. We have to trust these controls and hope that the odd cyclist is also obeying them (don’t get me started!)

I seem to have developed an interest in these lights or more on their differences. We are used to a red man when we have to stop and a green man when it is safe. Sometimes there is a loud noise telling you to corss or stay.


Pedestrian lights


Now I’m referring to the icon as ‘man’ but it is pretty clear it is male. 


Different varieties

I have been stood at crossings in Singapore where a number flashes telling you how many seconds you have left before you run the risk of being mown down by the vehicles revving up alongside you. I saw some of these in London recently. I’m sure their designer was trying to help but unless the time between red and green is appropriate for all those crossing, being told how long you have left can just add stress to an already pressured situation. I know many elderly and disabled folk feel there is just not enough time to get from one side of the road to the other. They have to rely on the consideration of the driver at the front of the queue! 


pedestrian lights


New boys and girls on the block

My shock however, was not for any of these differences. I just seem to have an interest in pedestrian lights and thank goodness I do because what I saw among the many traffic lights around Trafalgar Square were gender  symbols!


pedestrian lights


There were some with the female symbol and some with both symbols. Now, I was gobsmacked! Not because this had been done but does that mean that someone, somewhere was upset that it was green and red MEN on the lights? As there were only a few (that I saw) maybe this part of London is trying to send an equality message. Again, i have no problem with that but what about the cost if it were to become policy? It would cost a great deal of money to convert all our pedestrian lights and where would the money come from? You and Me! Is it that much of an equality issue?


What are your views of pedestrian lights? Should they depict both genders?

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