Criss cross lights, also known as crosswalk lights, pedestrian signals, or traffic lights, are an integral part of today’s bustling cities. They guide pedestrians and vehicles alike through intersections, ensuring safety and smooth traffic flow.

A History Lesson

The first documented use of semaphore-style traffic signals dates back to the mid-1800s in London, England. These early signals used arms mounted on a pole to indicate “stop” or “go” directions to oncoming horse-drawn carriages.

In 1912, the first electric traffic signal was installed in Salt Lake City, Utah, using red and green lights. Over time, various modifications and innovations were introduced, including the now-familiar yellow light and the crosswalk signal.

How Criss Cross Lights Work

Criss cross lights utilize a series of colored lights to indicate to pedestrians and drivers when it is safe to cross a busy intersection. Generally, the colors correspond to the following instructions:

  • Red: Stop. Do not enter the intersection.
  • Yellow: Caution. Prepare to stop.
  • Green: Go. Cross the intersection.

In addition, crosswalk signals typically use a white “walking person” symbol to indicate when it is safe to cross, and a flashing “hand” symbol to indicate when the time for crossing is ending.

The Evolution of Criss Cross Lights

Like many technologies, crosswalk signals have continued to evolve over time. One notable innovation is the use of audible signals for visually impaired pedestrians. These signals may provide a beeping or vibrating indication when it is safe to cross.

Another modern development is the use of countdown timers, which display the remaining time available for crossing. These timers can help pedestrians make informed decisions about when to cross, improving safety and reducing accidents.

The Impact of Criss Cross Lights on Society

Criss cross lights are essential for ensuring safety and order in busy cities. Without them, crosswalks would be chaotic and dangerous, with vehicles and pedestrians competing for space.

However, crosswalk signals have also had a broader societal impact. They help to promote walkability and encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation, such as walking or cycling. This, in turn, can lead to benefits such as improved health and reduced traffic congestion and pollution.

The Future of Criss Cross Lights

As cities continue to grow and evolve, so too will criss cross lights. Already, many municipalities are exploring new technologies such as Smart Crosswalks, which use sensors and cameras to adjust signal times based on real-time pedestrian and vehicular traffic data.

Other innovations may include more advanced audible signals for visually impaired pedestrians, crosswalks with integrated LED lighting for improved visibility, and crosswalks that incorporate social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Criss cross lights have come a long way since their humble origins in the 19th century. Today, they are an essential tool for ensuring safety, promoting walkability, and reducing traffic congestion and pollution. As technology continues to advance, we can look forward to new and exciting innovations in the world of crosswalk signals.