Liverpool City Region has initiated a new plan to cut deaths on UK roads with the introduction of new smart pedestrian crossings designed by a local behavioural science company.
So-Mo, based in the city’s Baltic Triangle district, has devised a pedestrian crossing which looks to help people cross the road more safely using audio-visual prompts which they are calling ‘embedded nudges’.
A report to Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet, recommending trials of the crossings, has been approved and will see them installed at two collision hot-spots – Hanover Street/ Bold Street in the city centre and another, on a busy high street located on the outskirts of the city, (final location is yet to be confirmed).
Liverpool has the highest rate of adult deaths or serious injuries (KSIs) for pedestrian collisions in the UK metropolitan boroughs – at 99 per 100,000 people. These trials form part of a wider strategy devised by the council and road safety partners to help bring down that number, which has been steadily falling since 2012.
Bold Street, one of the UK’s most dangerous pedestrian crossings, will see the introduction of a ‘Gold Standard’ crossing, which looks to encourage more pedestrians to use it through the embedded nudges.
The second site will see the use of a “faster boarding” system – which will reduce wait times for pedestrians giving them priority over cars. So-Mo’s designs will be assessed and analysed over a two-year period. The company created them following an in-depth insight study into pedestrian behaviours in the urban environment.
The trials are being funded by the Road Safety Trust, with the support of the Department of Transport and the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership. The specific aims of the pilot are to determine if the interventions change pedestrians unsafe crossing behaviour by encouraging them to adopt safe crossing behaviours, measured by:
- An increase in the number of crossings made inside the crossing area.
- An increase in the number of pedestrians using the crossing correctly.
It is hoped the crossings will be ready in early 2021. Nicola Wass, chief executive of So-Mo, said: “Liverpool should be proud of the fact that they are taking an imaginative, intelligent approach to road safety.
“These crossings have been informed by the science but designed with a deeper understanding of the people who use them. The point of doing a trial before launching any new crossing designs is that it allows us to know with certainty whether these new elements work or not.”
Cllr Sharon Connor, Cabinet member for Highways, added: “Far too many people lose their lives or are seriously injured as pedestrians in Liverpool. It’s a problem we’ve been tackling and have had some success with over the past decade but we need to be radical to make the progress we all want.”