Liverpool launches ‘nudge behavior’ road safety trial

The UK’s first nudge-behaviour trial for a new style of potentially life-saving pedestrian crossings, has been launched in Liverpool this week.

The eye-catching designs have been installed at two collision hot-spots – Hanover Street/ Bold Street in the city centre and one at East Prescot Road in the Old Swan area of the city.

The trials will run for two weeks and comes 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 highest rates of adult deaths or serious injuries (KSIs) for pedestrian collisions in the UK Metropolitan Boroughs – at 99 per 100,000 people. 

The trials also 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, according to Liverpool Express.

The Hanover Street location, one of the UK’s most dangerous pedestrian crossings, has seen the introduction of what is know locally as the ‘Compli Crossing’ It is inspired by pop-art and features a series of multi-coloured nudges. 

The crossing is uniquely placed given it bisects two pedestrianised areas – Church Street and Bold Street – and has a huge daily and nightly footfall as it stands almost equidistant between the hugely popular Mathew Street quarter and Concert Square areas.

The second site at Old Swan has deployed the use of a “faster boarding” system – which will makes 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 giving 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 insight 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.  

Ultimately the only way to test an intervention like this is as part of an on-street trial. The experience of different road user groups will be monitored throughout, with specific engagement sessions planned for people with disabilities and neurological conditions.  

The trials are supported by the Road Safety Trust, which has used funds raised from speeding fines, along with additional funding from Merseyside Road Safety Partnership.

The specific aims of the trials 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

•An increase in the number of pedestrians using the crossing correctly

The Hanover/ Bold/ Church Street location has a high collision rate in the evening and throughout the night with casualties made up of pedestrians enjoying a night out. Within the last five years, 14 adult casualties have been recorded there,

Councillor Dan Barrington, 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.

“I like the fact that these dynamic 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, said: “Liverpool should be proud of the fact that they are taking an imaginative, intelligent approach to road safety.  These crossings are designed with deeper understanding of the people who use them, and the problems they face. The results of the trials will be published. 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”.


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