The term Ampelmännchen (also traffic light man) is the general term for the pedestrian signal of a traffic light. It shows in the red phase, the symbol of a standing and in the green phase, the symbol of a border pedestrian.


With the onset of motorization, the number of vehicles increased sharply, especially in the cities. Due to lack of traffic control then often passed accidents between vehicles and pedestrians, who wanted to cross the street. To improve this situation, in 1933, the first pedestrian crossing in Copenhagen (1937 in Berlin) was put into operation. These were reduced to vehicle lamps, which were equipped with a green and a red light field. In New York, installed in 1952 pedestrian lights with the words " Walk" and " Do not Walk ", in Germany this system below were later mounted light fields with the words " wait " and " Go ". During the operation it was found that these lights were poorly accepted by the pedestrians.

The traffic psychologist Karl Peglau suggested in 1961 the Ministry of Transport of the GDR that each road user group should get a unique light. He developed a pedestrian traffic light showing the symbol of a standing or border pedestrian. Especially children and elderly people were influenced by the vivid symbols in their behavior.

After his design by Karl Peglau in 1961 the traffic light man had for years various professional, academic and government exams before entering East Berlin at the intersection of Unter den Linden / Friedrichstraße competed in 1969 their official service. In 1970, they were taken as official pedestrian signals into the optical signal standard of the GDR. For better acceptance in children Verkehrskompaß the series was broadcast on television. Gradually they came everywhere throughout the GDR used. The lights were manufactured initially in Berlin from VEB luminaire construction, then by a Dresden PGH and the company Bergner & Weiser in Pössneck. In 1974, the company Schmidt KG got in the Saxon Wildenfels (later VEB signaling ) the order to production and prepared to turn the pedestrian traffic lights with the Ampelmännchen from.

After the reunification in 1990, the East Ampelmännchen were first exchanged in the east gradually to the West German traffic light man. Within the population It conducted protests and the East Ampelmännchen, was later added as an allowed symbol in the guidelines for traffic signal systems. In Berlin, has been used since January 2005 in the western districts, the East Ampelmännchen at traffic signals. This example is followed by several other West German cities, while in East Germany was the East German traffic light man back to his right.

Researchers determined that the East Ampelmänchen is better recognized correctly as the West Ampelmännchen.

Forms of representation

With the universality of the Ampelmännchen as a pedestrian signal, a broad spectrum has developed in different forms of representation. In some countries, such as France or Korea, the symbols have a very sober look and make the pedestrian very simplified form Elsewhere, such as in Austria or Belgium, the pedestrian received humane forms and are represented with clothing. Canada and the United States to refrain from the representation of a standing male and instead show a palm. In some countries, such as Spain or Turkey, the Ampelmännchen is shown at a run, which speeds up towards the end of the green phase.

In Europe, efforts to unify the symbols of the individual Member States. To this end, the Euro males has been developed which is built in Europe in the new traffic lights. In Germany the old West German traffic light man and the eastern traffic light man are next to the Euro males widespread. The Vienna Ampelmännchen lights in white and surrounded by a red or green light field, found in Switzerland, mainly the Euro male.


The appearance of the symbols is standardized in each country in appropriate regulations, in many places departed from ent anyway. For example, the symbols have been at a few traffic lights in Germany secretly changed so that Ampelmännchen emerged with umbrella or backpack. In the Danish city of Fredericia soldiers are in different lights used as Ampelmännchen to commemorate the battle of Fredericia in Schleswig -Holstein War, 1849.

In 2007, replaced in the Czech cities of Prague, the artist group Ztohoven founded by Roman Tyc overnight the standard Ampelmännchen some pedestrian lights by peeing, drinking and other human emotions displayed variations of the male.

From the form of the East- Ampelmännchen the symbol of a woman traffic light ( traffic light also female) was created and put into Zwickau and Dresden, tentatively in 2004. The figures - light area, was designed for pigtails and a skirt. Advantage of this sense the image is enlarged luminous surface and thus a better conspicuity of the signal color. In 2010, the first traffic light women in Bremen published.

East Ampelmännchen

The Ostampelmännchen has a special position, as it has evolved after the German reunification, the symbol of nostalgia.

The Berlin industrial designer Markus Heckhausen marketed with the company Ampelmann GmbH since 1996 various products around the Ampelmännchen and now holds all classes of marketing.