Are these crossing lights in The Netherlands better for everybody?


There have been recent reports about the testing of a new idea to help pedestrians cross the road when using a mobile phone. I’ve seen a few similar attempts over the past few years, but I think this is the most elegant so far.

Picture of a new trial crossing in The Netherlands - Picture from The Guardian/HIG

A few options present themselves when you’re given a behaviour change challenge like this: Do you try to add more friction, or education, to force people to change their behaviour, or do you adapt to the new behaviours you’re seeing, and change the environment instead? Or a combination of the two?

Either way, by solving one problem for one use case you often create many more, for users who were doing just fine. Think of Instagram trying to adapt to users who also wanted to use snapchat. I used to be happy to follow quite a few random acquaintances on Instagram out of politeness, and I’d see one or two of their snaps as part of a chronological feed. Now, having to skip through their endless story videos on a daily basis seems a little more than I signed up for.

Anyway, the lights. I think, maybe this solution is actually better for everyone? If I have bad eyesight, I should sense a big red line much more clearly. The piece of road being protected is much easier to understand, and actually, a strong red line feels much more un-crossable than a distant light. Maybe more people would wait their turn this way? And maybe in future we won’t need so many pole-like structures on our streets, which might make for a prettier space as well.

Posted in Architecture, Ideas
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