Postwar Britain had only 10% of its current road traffic but fatalities were mounting. A typical pedestrian crossing was marked with no more than metal studs in the road and were difficult for motorists to see. The government’s Transport Research Laboratory ran visibility experiments on new types of crossings and tested a variety of designs at varying locations starting in 1949.
Broad black and white stripes had the most visual impact. These crossings, nicknamed Zebra Crossings, were made the legal standard in Britain and widely introduced in late 1951, starting at High Street, Slough. ( Photo courtesy of Mary Treen at TRL )
Here are just a few more iconic images of Zebra Crossings on their 60th birthday.
UPDATE – Below is an article from the Daily Express dated 31/11/11.
The zebra crossing celebrates its 60th anniversary today with experts warning it is facing extinction.
The first was opened in Slough, Berkshire, in 1951 and they have been a feature of British roads ever since.
But over the past five years more than 1,000 zebra crossings have vanished and many others have been replaced by more sophisticated alternatives with lights and flashing signs.
Low fines and the reluctance of motorists to stop have also seen deaths on such crossings double in the past four years. Andrew Hammond, the head of road safety at the AA, said: “Zebra crossings are looked on as inferior to other pedestrian crossings as there is no red light telling cars to stop.”
“There is pressure from residents for councils to fit pelican crossings as they believe they are safer, so zebras are being phased out – and I think they will eventually become extinct.”
The Beatles brought international fame to zebra crossings in 1969 with the cover for their Abbey Road album.