Liverpool City Council has launched what is being described as the ‘UK’s first nudge-behaviour trial’ for a new style pedestrian crossing.
The ‘eye-catching’ design has been installed at two collision hot-spots, at Hanover Street in the city centre and the Old Swan area of Liverpool.
The trial will run for two weeks, at a time when cities like Liverpool are seeing a huge rise in footfall following the ending of Covid lockdown restrictions and the return of thousands of university students.
Liverpool has been chosen to host the experiment, along with Hull, as it has one of the UK’s highest rates of adult deaths or serious injuries (KSIs) for pedestrian collisions – at 99 per 100,000 people.
The trial forms 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.
The Hanover Street location, one of the UK’s most dangerous pedestrian crossings, has seen the introduction of what is known locally as the ‘Compli Crossing’, which is inspired by pop-art and features a series of multi-coloured ‘nudges’.
The second site at Old Swan has deployed the use of a ‘faster boarding’ system – intended to make the crossing more noticeable to people who are looking to get to where they are going in the fastest, most direct way possible. Crossing wait times have also been reduced to give pedestrians priority over cars.
The innovative designs have been created by So-Mo, a behavioural science company based in the North West, following an in-depth study into pedestrian behaviour in the urban environment. The designs were brought to life in collaboration with Liverpool based designers Smiling Wolf and were developed in consultation with disability groups.
The experience of different road user groups will be monitored throughout the on-street trial, with specific engagement sessions planned for people with disabilities and neurological conditions.
The trial has been made possible as a result of a grant from the Road Safety Trust, with additional funding from Merseyside Road Safety Partnership.
The specific aims of the trial are to determine if the interventions encourage pedestrians to adopt ‘safe behaviours’, measured by an increase in the number of crossings made inside the crossing area, and an increase in the number of pedestrians using the crossing correctly
Councillor Dan Barrington, Liverpool City Council, said: “One in five of all adult pedestrian casualties (in Liverpool) happens close to pedestrian crossings. It’s a problem we’ve have had some success with over the past decade, but we need to be radical to make the progress we all want.
“These colourful crossings So-Mo have developed are looking at the whole picture – the environment, the location, behaviour.
“A huge amount of work has gone into their designs and I look forward to seeing the results of the trials and whether they will change the public’s approach to the crossings.”
Nicola Wass, chief executive of So-Mo, added: “Liverpool should be proud that they are taking an imaginative, intelligent approach to road safety.
“These crossings are designed with (a) deeper understanding of the people who use them, and the problems they face.
“Doing a trial before launching any new crossing design allows us to know with certainty whether these new elements work or not.”