Why are there two red men?

One of the things that I’ve always wondered about in Germany, is why some pedestrian crossings – eg. in Nordrhein Westfalen – have two red men on them:

Pedestrian traffic lights in Cologne

Pedestrian traffic lights in Cologne

I have two theories:

1. It reinforces the red light by having two.  If one stops working, the other one should still light up.

2. It’s cheaper because the towns only need to buy one type of light and then use different filters on them, rather than buying 3-lamp and 2-lamp lights.  Surely it must use more energy, though?

Does anyone know the answer?


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. It’s exactly for reason number 1 you have listed above – there are two red lights for safety, in case one stops working.

    Typically German 🙂

  2. Thanks Steo, is that something you know more about?  Or do you have a source in NRW that gives that reason?


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