Several pedestrian road crossing signs across London have been updated to replace the walking man with a person using a wheelchair in recognition of the different needs of Londoners.
New green wheelchair user traffic light signals have been installed Earl’s Court, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Tower Hill and Whitechapel, and were suggested by three-time Olympian rowing champion Captain Pete Reed OBE to represent disabled people.
Pete Reed approached TfL with his idea of a wheelchair user traffic signal because he wanted to draw attention to the large disabled population in London and beyond, for whom access and ease of travel is essential to make the most of the city, as well as ensuring that traffic signals are representative of disabled people in a diverse and inclusive global city.
The locations for the new wheelchair user traffic signals have been selected based on their proximity to busy tube stations that also offer step-free access and Yunex Traffic installed the signs at no cost to TfL.
Pete Reed OBE, said: “As an Olympic athlete and naval officer, I spent my early adult life at the peak of human fitness. In 2019, in one day everything changed for me. My life now as a full-time wheelchair user has a whole range of new demands, which can be dramatically helped by better access and transport for wheelchair users, just as there should also be for the wider disabled community.
“I’m so delighted that the Mayor of London and TfL listened with open ears when I proposed these new wheelchair user traffic signals. What are only five traffic lights to one Londoner represent progress, positivity and possibility to another. The disabled community can and do offer so much value to all parts of society – I hope this visibility in mainstream life makes more people feel comfortable about getting out in the city and raising their voices where they see opportunity for positive change and collaboration.”
The reimagined symbols improve the visibility of disabled people on London’s streets and have been created in line with the safety features of the green man figure, ensuring pedestrians relying on the green signal to cross the road can still recognise the cue, indicating it is safe to do so. TfL also says it engaged with safety experts to minimise any confusion for pedestrians using the crossings and secured technical approvals for wheelchair user signals.
The other traffic signals at the five crossings, including the red stop lights for pedestrians remain unchanged.
The green wheelchair user traffic signals have been installed at these locations:
- Earl’s Court station along Warwick Road
- King’s Cross station along Gray’s Inn Road by King’s Cross Bridge
- Liverpool Street station along Bishopsgate by New Street
- Tower Hill by Tower Hill station
- Whitechapel Road by Whitechapel statio
TfL has previously reflected diversity at pedestrian traffic signals and introduced designs to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community around Trafalgar Square in 2016 and green woman traffic signals at 20 locations across London in 2021.
TfL is also looking at how to make pedestrian crossings more accessible and is currently running a trial at the temporary crossings at Manor Circus, which involves a remote-control button via a mobile app or separate handheld Bluetooth wireless device. This has been developed for people unable to use the push-button on crossings, allowing them to remotely call the pedestrian crossing and safely cross the road.