So how should a 21st century road crossing work? The great minds at design agency Umbrellium and insurer Direct Line joined forces to find out.
Here’s what their ‘Smart Crossing’ of the future looks like:
Crossing the road of the future
Their ‘smart crossing’ is a 22-metre responsive road surface that displays a zebra crossing, using cameras and a computer to adapt its markings based on what’s happening on the road and pavement.
A large group of pedestrians? The crossing can stretch in size, using LED lights beneath the road to adapt its display, lengthening to allow more school kids or concert-goers to cross.
Rise of the ‘smombies’
The city of Bodegraven in the Netherlands has been testing “Plus Lightlines”, a strip of LEDs embedded in the pavement for people staring at their smartphones. The strip turns red or green to indicate whether it’s safe for pedestrians to cross, without them ever having to look up.
The Hawaiian capital of Honolulu is less forgiving to smartphone addicts. They now fine people who text or check their emails while crossing the road, £11 for a first offence and up to £75 if you’re a repeat offender.
Umbrellium’s concept is also designed with ‘smombies’ in mind, the pavement displays a countdown timer and crossing symbols for those staring down.
While it’s maybe depressing that Britain’s becoming a ‘smombie nation’ – smart crossings are still undoubtedly a boon for safety and convenience.