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Public-images-osm logo.svg crossing_ref
Horse traffic light.jpg
Used to reference a specific type of crossing Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: crossings
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesuse on ways unspecifieduse on areas unspecifieduse on relations unspecified
Documented values: 2
Useful combination
Status: approvedPage for proposal

a question mark

This article or section contains questionable, contentious or controversial information. See the talk page for more information.
There is currently no consensus as to whether or not it is acceptable to use this tag to describe types of crossing markings on their own, as opposed to implying how the crossing is controlled by lights or signals.

Key:crossing_ref has traditionally been used to distinguish between Key:crossing types by their relationship to signals, signs, and markings using the British "animal" descriptions of them (zebra, pelican, puffin, etc.). The tag is intended to refer to a name that is commonly understood in the local region a crossing is mapped in, and other crossing classification descriptions have become more prevalent over time, including some which refer only to the crossing markings and do not imply anything about signalization. In many countries, the presence of markings on a crossing and the presence of pedestrian signals are not so closely linked that a description of a crosswalk type could accurately imply anything about its signalization. (For example, unmarked signalized crossings are common in the United States, and describing a crosswalk as "marked" or "unmarked" would commonly be understood as only referring to the presence or absence of markings.)

Common values


  • pxo (pedestrian crossover with or without flashing lights (Canada)


The tag crossing_ref=zebra is widely used in France (as of October 2023, over half of all uses worldwide are in France).


There are currently 18,800 mappings of crossing_ref=zebra in Austria. None of them satisfies all of the requirements put on them for UK use. crossing:markings=* with value "zebra" provides for a more concise and less ambiguous mapping for the on the ground situation. As of 2023-10-30 it has 6300 mappings. Good editor support assumed to change the ratio.


Tag values of crossing_ref=* in use in Germany (list may be incomplete)
Tag Description Image
crossing_ref=zebra The tag is used for a Fußgängerüberweg, colloquially known as Zebrastreifen, a pedestrian crossing with zebra markings. Pedestrians approaching the crossing have priority over road traffic. It is accompanied by traffic sign VZ 350. Unlike the UK, there are no zig-zag markings on the approach. Flashing lights do not exist as a default setup and not in the shape of "Belisha Beacons", but they can be added above the crossing sign at especially dangerous crossings (flashing_lights=always) . Fußgängerüberwege are always illuminated (lit=yes) so you can usually find a street light directly above, often incorperated into an additional sign.

See also crossing:markings=zebra, traffic_sign=DE:350

Kaulsdorfer Str Kaulsdorf 2011-04-22 AMA fec.JPG

For other values in use in Germany, please see Taginfo (the table at the link includes Austria and Switzerland).

United Kingdom

Tagging of controlled pedestrian crossings in the United Kingdom (may be adopted in other countries)
Tag Description Image
crossing_ref=zebra A zebra crossing is a controlled pedestrian crossing without traffic signals. Intermittent white stripes are painted across the carriageway at the crossing as well as Belisha beacons on either side of the road. Zig-Zag markings are used on approach and exits of the crossing. Pedestrians have priority over road traffic.

Where a zebra crossing crosses a cycle track, zig zag markings & Belisha beacons can be omitted, pedestrians have priority over cyclists.

Additional tags: crossing=uncontrolled crossing:markings=zebra;dots

Abbey Road Zebra.jpg
crossing_ref=tiger A tiger crossing is a controlled pedestrian & cycle crossing without traffic signals. A zebra crossing is provided with an adjacent cycleway crossing directly parallel to it (marked by cycle symbols & large square markings on the edge). Belisha beacons and Zig Zag markings are provided the same as a Zebra Crossing. Both Pedestrians and Cyclists have priority of road traffic on the main carriageway.

In initial trials they were called Tiger crossings due to using yellow stripes instead of white, however become known as "Parallel crossings" in Law.

It is proposed to change this tag to crossing_ref=parallel due to the old term of "tiger" not being used in legislation or design.

Parallel crossing, Leytonstone Road.jpg
crossing_ref=pelican A pelican crossing is a traffic signal controlled pedestrian crossing. These are an older design of pedestrian crossing in the UK which only legacy installations still exist from pre-2004. They always feature far-side signals for pedestrians, with the near-side push button units (PBUs) displaying text lit up with "WAIT" when the button is pushed, along with instructions on how to use the crossing. Pelican crossings do not use sensors to detect when the crossing is clear of pedestrians, instead using a flashing amber light for road traffic when they need to give way to pedestrians crossing the road, or continue if there are no pedestrians crossing. Zig zag markings are always provided, except when the crossing is part of a junction.

Additional tags: crossing=traffic_signals crossing:markings=dots

Pelican between King George Rec and Cosham Park - - 729204.jpg
crossing_ref=puffin A puffin crossing is a traffic signal controlled pedestrian crossing. These are the newer types of pedestrian crossing in the UK. They have additional sensors which can detect when pedestrians are waiting to cross, and to see when they are on the crossing, making the crossing safer and more efficient.

They usually have near-side signals shown on the side traffic first approaches from, making pedestrians look at traffic instead of across, this also means that pedestrians will not see the light change to red whilst they are on the crossing. Some puffin installations (mostly in London) still use far-side signals at busy crossings where it may not be easy for all pedestrians to see a near-side indicator. Zig zag markings are always provided, except when the crossing is part of a junction.

Additional tags: crossing=traffic_signals crossing:markings=dots

"PUFFIN" crossing, Coleraine (2) - - 2759765.jpg
crossing_ref=toucan A toucan crossing is a traffic signal controlled pedestrian & bicycle crossing. These are a variation of pelican OR puffin installations which allow bicycles to cross as well as pedestrians. Newer installations will have near-side indicators (like puffin), while some older installations will have far-side (like pelican). On Near-side units they display both a red or green bicycle alongside a red or green pedestrian, while on far-side they will only show a green bicycle. Zig zag markings are always provided, except when the crossing is part of a junction.
Puffin crossing in Belfast (35021074385).jpg
crossing_ref=pegasus A pegasus crossing is a traffic signal controlled horse crossing. These are a variation of pelican OR puffin installations which allow horse rider (either mounted or dismounted) to crossing. Like toucan crossings these can have either near side or far side signals, but Pegasus crossings are not combined with pedestrians or bicycles, which means they will also show a red or green horse. Pegasus crossings usually have a Toucan provided adjacent to them for pedestrians and cyclists to use. Zig zag markings are always provided, except when the crossing is part of a junction.
Horse traffic light.jpg

United States

Some other MUTCD-compliant crosswalk configurations involve more than a marking style, for example a certain kind of signal. These configurations have also been tagged using crossing_ref=*:

Tag Description Image
crossing_ref=hawk As of 2021, highway=crossing crossing_ref=hawk is the most commonly used tag for a HAWK beacon, a relatively new kind of crossing in the United States that uses standard road markings and pedestrian signals but a unique signal directed at motorists. [1][2][3][4]
HAWK Optimized.gif
crossing_ref=pedestrian_scramble Pedestrian scramble with explicit markings and signals; alternatively crossing:scramble=yes.

Additional tags: crossing=traffic_signals crossing:markings=lines

Whyte Avenue at 104 Street 01 11-04-2022.jpg

The various US crosswalk marking styles can be tagged using crossing:markings=*. In the past crossing_ref=zebra has been used for zebra markings as well, but due to this not being a special setup but just a marking style crossing:markings=zebra is used now instead.

In states that paint school crossings yellow, such as California [5] and Arizona[6], these crosswalks can be tagged colour=yellow or crossing:markings:colour=yellow.

Examples and Proposals

See also