Inflatable zebra crossing pops up in York

inflatable pop-up zebra crossing

Dismal provision for safe crossings outside schools is a nationwide scandal. Having visited York last week with our inflatable pop-up zebra crossing, we can report that schools in the north find requests for safe crossings are as likely to be ignored as those in the south.

Thousands of schools are plagued by dangerous road conditions outside their gates. Of course, zebra crossings are a sticking plaster – problems caused by inconsiderate and dangerous drivers can’t be solved by a bit of paint, but they should be installed as a matter of course on roads around schools.

pop-up zebra crossing

We travelled to York with our pop-up zebra crossing to help highlight the problems faced by parents and children at Acomb Primary School. BBC radio came along to cover the story and photos were sent to local newspapers. Let’s hope York city council sees sense and gives them the safe crossings they deserve.

What’s a pop-up zebra crossing?

When we were approached 10 years ago by a school whose request for a zebra crossing at a road traffic collision black spot outside their gates had been turned down on grounds of cost, we went about building one ourselves as cheaply as possible.

The result was a pop-up zebra crossing that could be erected in less than two minutes. And with no need to consider drainage, the excavation of existing pavement, disposal of material, new kerbing and paving, anti-skid surfacing, road markings, traffic signs, electrical connections and pillars, the total cost came to £50 – considerably less than the £114,000 quoted by the Highways Agency.

Faced with coverage of the campaign in the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Evening Standard and Metro newspapers and on numerous radio stations, the local authority quickly installed the much-needed real zebra crossing.

If you’re facing a similar challenge trying to get a zebra crossing, please get in touch.

pop-up zebra crossing

The pop-up zebra crossing has been designed to be installed on any road in less than a minute. The idea may be tongue-in-cheek, but the issue is deadly serious; with over 2,000 children killed or seriously injured each year on our roads, parents should never have to battle to have a genuine crossing installed.

The dangers posed to our children by motorised traffic are numerous. As children we’re exposed to air pollution on the school run and while in the playground. When Unicef UK equipped six school children with personal air monitors to record exposure to soot particles, they found that while the kids spent around 7 per cent of the day travelling, they experienced 15 per cent of their daily exposure to the pollutant while commuting.

Greenpeace air pollution filter

As part of our film about road danger, Stop Killing our Children, we spoke Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology and Honorary Consultant Physician at the University of Southampton, Professor Stephen Holgate :

We know that here in the United Kingdom, for example, we have the highest prevalence of asthma in Europe and one of the major drivers of that of course is exposure to air pollution. The other thing that we understand more recently especially is that some of the pollutants get into the circulation and start increasing the risk of diabetes for example, which we know is going up in this country at the moment, and also impaired cognition – learning and the ability to acquire knowledge from schooling and teaching.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.

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  1. Alexander Newton-Hall


    I understand the need for more safe places to cross, and the need for more pedestrian-friendly transportation networks, but I’m not sure that this is a safe way to publicise this. There are a couple of concerns I have with this, though I’d be very happy for these concerns to be answered!

    Firstly, has the plastic sheet that is layed accross the road surface been tested for adhesion to the road surface and vehicle tyres? I’m very concerned that a plastic sheet could cause a vehicle’s wheel(s) to lock under-braking and then for the sheet to be dragged along, under the wheels, sliding across the road surface, causing the braking distince to severely increase. Has there been any testing regarding this, using different types of vehicles – including LGV’s and HGV’s?

    My second concern is the placement of these temporary crossings. When a permanent crossing is being installed, many safety factors are considered, such as the visibility of the crossing – as layed out in the Department for Transport’s ‘The Design of Pedestrian Crossings’. Some modifications are also sometimes made to the road to, for example, prevent vehicles from parking on the road at either side of the crossing to improve the visibility of both pedestrians and vehicles. What safety considerations are made and accounted for prior to installing a temporary crossing?

    • The ETA


      Our pop-up zebra crossing is only ever erected for only as long as it takes to get a photo. For that reason, vehicles don’t ever drive across the plastic sheet. We use it to help publicise local campaigns for safe crossings.

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