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UK Cities Use Behavior-Based Road Crossing Designs to Decrease Pedestrian Accidents

Liverpool, UK
The Atlas Community Team

Government Champion

Liverpool & Hull City Council

Cost

Initial:
200 Thousand GBP

Project Status

In Progress/Under Construction since 2021

Motivation

Funding / Financing

Project Type

At a Glance

With pedestrian deaths and injuries among the highest in the UK, both Liverpool and Hull knew a more effective approach was needed to increase road crossing usage. By implementing new behavior-based road crossing designs, crossing usage should increase and pedestrian accidents should decrease.

Problem Addressed

The city of Liverpool has one of the highest rates of adult deaths and serious injuries in pedestrian collisions in the UK, with 99 casualties per 100,000 people. Councillor Dan Barrington, Liverpool’s cabinet member for Transport and Climate change said “Far too many people lose their lives or are seriously injured in Liverpool, with one in five of all adult pedestrian casualties happening close to pedestrian crossings. 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.”

With a road network and socio-demographic profile similar to Liverpool, the city of Hull also experiences high rates of pedestrian deaths and injuries. Pedestrians represent 14% of all road casualties and 25% of those killed or seriously injured.

It was clear that the city needed to implement new methods to increase pedestrian safety as part of Liverpool’s broader road safety strategy.

The Cities of Liverpool and Hull used/is using behavior-based pedestrian crossing designs to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

A road safety data company found that many pedestrians hit in Liverpool don’t use designated crossings correctly with one-third of them being hit within 50 yards of one. So-Mo, a behavioral science company, was brought in to develop a solution that would influence pedestrians to use road crossings more frequently.

The Liverpool City Council, in partnership with the Hull City Council, has been awarded £200,000 by the Road Safety Trust to develop and implement a solution with So-Mo. The Road Safety Trust is a charity that gives money to research and interventions that reduce the number of people killed or injured on the road.

The solution utilized the behavioral science mechanism of the ‘embedded nudge', which allows the city to influence behavior by changing how choices are presented so that people are more likely to choose one option over another. To prevent accidents, the city installed boldly designed and brightly colored pedestrian crossings in accident hotspots, making pedestrians more likely to cross streets at the designated crossing area. The new crossings were designed with colors and markers intended to increase pedestrian visibility, even if they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Two new crossing designs were implemented in both Liverpool and Hull.

In Liverpool, the new pedestrian crossing design was put in the city center at the Hanover Street/Bold Street intersection, one of the UK’s most dangerous pedestrian crossings.

Pedestrian consumption of alcohol was a factor in nearly 20% of accidents in Liverpool’s city center. While inebriated, a person’s ability to spot hazards is reduced and their level of distraction is increased. The new crossings’ bright colors draw the attention of distracted (and/or intoxicated) pedestrians and encourage them to walk in the designated area.

A Liverpool shopping and business district intersection was chosen as the second test location. Between the lack of focus crossing the street on frequently traveled routes, and crosswalks being seen as slow, pedestrians rarely use crossings. Because of these factors, “faster boarding” arrows similar to those in airport priority boarding lines were used in the new crossing design to position the crossing as the safest and quickest way to cross. Additionally, pedestrians are given priority over cars which reduces the waiting time at crossings.

Councillor Dan Barrington said, “I like the fact that these dynamic crossings So-Mo have developed are looking at the whole picture – the environment, the location, behavior.”

The trial of these two areas will run for two weeks and will use AI analytics via CCTV footage to measure any increase in the number of crossings made, as well as the number of pedestrians using the crossing correctly.

Outcomes

  1. Both Liverpool and Hull have implemented a behavior science-based method to reduce pedestrian deaths in accident hotspots
  2. The impact of the new crossings will be measured by AI-enabled CCTV cameras
  3. The new crossings were designed with colors and markers intended to increase pedestrian visibility, even if they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Something Unique

Instead of taking the traditional route of fining people who walk outside the crossing, Liverpool and Hull are psychologically influencing people to make the decision themselves to receive greater compliance, representing an innovative solution to pedestrian accidents.

Who Should Consider?

Cities or towns looking to achieve resident compliance by influencing behavior, rather than using coercion, to achieve a specific outcome.

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