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posted by hubie on Friday May 13, @08:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-can-tell-by-the-way-I-walk dept.

Slow walking may be to blame for perceived congestion in pedestrian areas:

If you live in a town or city, you are probably experienced in the art of navigating through crowded areas. But sometimes you can't help but feel like your surroundings are too congested for comfort. Intuition tells us this feeling must be because of the sheer volume of people around us in these moments that causes the perception of somewhere being too congested. But Project Assistant Professor Jia Xiaolu from the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo wanted to verify this assumption, and ended up proving that it might not actually be the entire truth of the matter.

"Perception of congestion is an important matter for those designing spaces to be used by people, so if there's a way to estimate this perceptual value, it would be useful to know," said Xiaolu. [...]

"That the velocity of pedestrians rather than density of the crowd better indicates perceived congestion was a bit of a surprise," said Xiaolu. "But it leads us to believe that people perceive a space too congested when they are simply unable to walk at the speed they wish to; there is a gap between their desired and actual velocity. [...]

"We found that women and also older people generally felt less constrained than men and younger people, which is probably due to their lower desired velocity, thus a smaller gap between their desired and actual velocity," said Xiaolu. "And while this is interesting, I think our future studies will focus on spaces where the objective is not so much about getting from A to B, but more goal oriented, such as interacting with a service in a store, gallery or other destination."

Original material: https://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/focus/en/press/z0508_00219.html

Journal Reference:
Xiaolu Jia et al., Revisiting the level-of-service framework for pedestrian comfortability: velocity depicts more accurate perceived congestion than local density, Transportation Research, 2022.
DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2022.04.007


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:19PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:19PM (#1244814)

    I'm not a super athlete or anything, but I feel pretty good about the fact that I'm 54 and still find my self in situations where I can treat pedestrians as if they're standing still. A lot of times they look to be in their 30s or 40s, but massively overweight. Every once in a while I'll see a fellow "weaver" doing the same thing. It isn't always easy. The people who are decently fast are the ones to watch out for, as they have enough speed to change direction and hit you. The guys toddling out of the aisle full of soda and chips at the grocery store? I can still blow right by 'em like they're standing still. I know it won't last forever. I get leg cramps at night if I work too hard, and I don't dare jump on these knees. It's fun while it lasts.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:23PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:23PM (#1244815)

      I'm about your age, and my wife is almost 10 yrs younger than me.
      She complains that I blow ahead of her on purpose. I swear, some people are slow or fast walkers just like some are slow or fast eaters. I'm overweight, but a fast walker and a slow eater. It is what it is. *shrug*

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:45PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:45PM (#1244816)

        There's a lot of factors, including the length of the legs. I can't walk as slow as some of those short people do, and they'll walk several abreast as if they own the entire sidewalk. Meanwhile, I'm taking a step, stopping, taking another step and stopping as physically walking that slowly is just awkward. And, I'm not even particularly tall. I'm more or less exactly average for my age.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Snotnose on Friday May 13, @09:16PM (7 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Friday May 13, @09:16PM (#1244820)

    On the freeway it's the assholes doing the speed limit in the fast lane. On the road it's the asshole cyclists who insist on riding 3-4 abreast, blocking 1-2 traffic lanes at half the speed limit. On the sidewalks it's the assholes who walk 2-3 abreast, not so much walking as creating a moving conversation pit with no clue about the world around them.

    CSB. In the early 90s I took a trip to Russia. If you ever go (yeah, like that will happen in the next 20 years now) be sure to hit the subway, and get off at every stop. Every station is (was?) an art museum. Anywhoo, their escalators are twice as steep and twice as fast as the ones I've ever been on. At one stop a group of elderly ladies got off at the bottom, formed a circle, and, what? I dunno? I mean there are tons of travellers coming down those selfsame escalators with nowhere else to go. I was about halfway down when I saw this and, I'm guessing, the next travelers were locals because instead of bowling these idiots over and making a bad situation worse, they grabbed the ladies and pulled them out of the way as they came to the end of the escalator.

    --
    I fondly remember the day I made sandcastles with my grandmother. Just wish I hadn't done it in the crematorium.
    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Saturday May 14, @12:14AM (6 children)

      by anubi (2828) on Saturday May 14, @12:14AM (#1244845) Journal

      Interesting.

      My cyclist friends tell me the reason they clump up is several factors.
      + There's safety in numbers. A motorist is more restrained from taking chances if there are witnesses.
      + Optimization of resources. A cyclist can easily share his road slot with another cyclist, instead of each taking up his own. They often do just that.
      Cyclists also drive, and know very well the frustrating experience with pedestrians at traffic lights when they won't clump and cross the intersection single file, blocking the turn lane until the light times out. They see it and just don't want to do that to everyone else. Clumping is an art best taught by the experience of those that did not clump and individually tied up the common resource.

      I submit this comment because I was approached about a year ago, during the COVID lockdown, by an angry neighbor over the presence of a cycling group here that has hundreds of cyclists "blocking the street". I have seen it too.

      Well, I knew one of those cyclists. Talked to him about it too.

      I sided with the cyclists. That street is here for all of us. And there are lots of parallel streets. The cyclists knew full good and well their group basically owned the street for the duration of their presence and they were trying to clump together for the safety in numbers thing.

      If one finds themself in this situation, just use another street. Same paradigm as finding an aisle in the market blocked off by a mom that's overcome by the tyranny of choice, and a bunch of kids. Go down the next one, come back later. It's not worth ruffling feathers over such trivia.

      As far as the escalator thing...about ten years ago at the mall theater, the same thing happened. People kept arriving from the lower level having no idea just how packed the upper level was. I knew I had to get outta the way fast, and I did some substantial socially rude shoving to do so, knowing the mall had installed shutdown switches on the elevators for just that purpose. Just had to get to it.

      People, please be aware of your surroundings!

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Saturday May 14, @12:19AM

        by anubi (2828) on Saturday May 14, @12:19AM (#1244846) Journal

        s/elevator/escalator

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, @01:21AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, @01:21AM (#1244855)

        Around here, cyclists are legally required to obey the laws related to where they're riding. No more than 2 per lane and they have to be able to keep up with traffic. They rarely if ever get cited, but it doesn't much matter why, that kind of behavior is illegal and dangerous.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by lentilla on Saturday May 14, @01:55AM (2 children)

        by lentilla (1770) on Saturday May 14, @01:55AM (#1244861)

        My escalator horror story:

        I was riding an escalator when I noticed a woman in one of those head-to-toe coverings had got her garment caught. The escalator was rapidly munching away and her face was being pulled towards the teeth. I couldn't speak the language, and even in this emergency I knew better than to touch her to haul her free (Muslim country). The only hope was the emergency stop button. So I ran back down the escalator and was greatly relieved when I found a button and the escalator stopped. I shudder to think what would have happened if it had caught hold of her hair.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by anubi on Saturday May 14, @02:07AM (1 child)

          by anubi (2828) on Saturday May 14, @02:07AM (#1244869) Journal

          (shudder) this is what happens when any law is enforced to the letter of the law. As is common in religions.

          This is why I believe "mens ria" should override all law.

          https://html.duckduckgo.com/html?q=mens%20ria [duckduckgo.com]

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
          • (Score: 2) by lentilla on Saturday May 14, @02:45AM

            by lentilla (1770) on Saturday May 14, @02:45AM (#1244876)

            Oh, I'm (reasonably) sure the woman would have been fine with me hauling her out of trouble - the danger to me was other people jumping to the wrong conclusion and issuing mob-justice. It still surprises me that I was able to perform that calculus in the blink of an eye and come up with a working solution! Anyway, it ended well and; having done everything I could do; I walked away and let others untangle her.

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday May 14, @03:17AM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday May 14, @03:17AM (#1244881) Journal

        My cyclist friends tell me the reason they clump up is several factors.
        + There's safety in numbers. A motorist is more restrained from taking chances if there are witnesses.

        I used to commute from Brooklyn to Harlem by bike, and this explanation rings true to me. There are other common causes, too, though. I don't know about other places, but in NYC a lot of the bike lanes are shared with cars, not physically separated. In those places drivers, taxis, delivery vans, cops, and basically anyone in a car treats the bike lane like double parking. That forces bikes to clump up and spill over into the car lanes.

        Beijing does the best at this by having an entirely separate, parallel highway system for bikes only.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday May 13, @09:35PM (4 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday May 13, @09:35PM (#1244823) Journal

    In America most people have a sense of how to behave when they're driving. That is, don't stop your car in the middle of the road, don't tailgate, check your mirrors before you change lanes, etc. Those same behaviors don't seem to translate to walking, however. I think it's because most people outside a small handful of cities like San Francisco or NYC don't really experience pedestrian congestion that often, not on the daily, constant basis that residents in those places do.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @10:18PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @10:18PM (#1244825)

      In America most people have a sense of how to behave

      [Citation required]

      • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Friday May 13, @11:29PM

        by istartedi (123) on Friday May 13, @11:29PM (#1244837) Journal

        Yeah, I was like "What part of America?" Do tell. It certainly isn't the Bay Area, where 280 is an Autobahn with bad lane discipline where cops go to meet their ticket quota, 101 is the superbike circuit, 880 is for sideshows, and 680 is like 280 but with worse lane discipline and fewer cops.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, @01:25AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, @01:25AM (#1244856)

        I think most of us do.

        Not much different from here.

        The assholes really stand out.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by TrentDavey on Saturday May 14, @06:54PM

      by TrentDavey (1526) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 14, @06:54PM (#1244992)

      ... women leisurely strolling. Not usually a problem outside but when you're inside walking down a corridor, it's the worst.
      Also: In the grocery store people have this strategy of maximizing their aisle blockage by putting their cart on one side of the aisle, walking halfway across the aisle to reach for some item while maintaining a grip on the cart (like if they let go the cart would whisked off the some alternate universe) and then stopping to price-compare. Drives. Me. Nuts.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by stretch611 on Saturday May 14, @02:06AM (4 children)

    by stretch611 (6199) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 14, @02:06AM (#1244867)

    Seriously, do we need to complain about people because they walk too slow?

    I understand... I used to work in NYC and I know what it was like walking from the Port Authority on 42 & 8th all the way over to 52nd & 6th Ave. And usually even worse was going for lunch when everyone leaves at noon and needs to be back by 1pm. (Lunch was the bigger nightmare by far.) But, hell, be a man (or woman) and deal with it... I did for years it isn't that difficult really.

    But here is the thing... You do not walk for speed. I mean, some try to, but lets face it, if you are pressed for time, you drive or have someone drive you. Pedestrians occasionally stop to smell the flowers, or look in store windows, site-see, or just stop, look up at the sun and breathe some fresh air. It is not their fault if they are not in the same rush that you are in. There is no minimum speed on a sidewalk... anywhere as far as I know. If they are too slow for you walk around them... if they are a big group and you can not get around them, cross the street and walk on the other side. In low vehicle traffic areas, walk around them on the road to pass.)

    If you show up to work late and your boss yells at you, are you going to say, well, gee, the other pedestrians just walked to slow today, I couldn't get around them and that is why I am late. Is there anyone who actually thinks that this excuse would work at all?

    If you are so illl-tempered that this would cause you to blow a gasket, you should not walk. Period. You should drive, etc. But if you insist on walking please blow a gaket...literally, it may cause some tourists to have an attraction to take a picture of the crazed lunatic that had a stroke on the sidewalk.

    --
    Not a Mega Millions Jackpot winner
    • (Score: 2) by lentilla on Saturday May 14, @02:57AM

      by lentilla (1770) on Saturday May 14, @02:57AM (#1244877)

      I used to work with a fella that liked to go for a jog at lunchtime. If people are familiar with a character called John Becker from the TV series Becker [wikipedia.org] you'd have an exact match. Lanky, misanthropic, really smart and quite kind in his own odd way. Prone to yelling at clients over the telephone and slamming down the receiver. I liked him.

      So every lunchtime he'd get in his jogging clothes and run through the city streets yelling "KEEP LEFT!" at every man, woman and child. He return to the office cursing "those bloody tourists!" Every single day. One could only smile and have a private inward chuckle.

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday May 14, @03:25AM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday May 14, @03:25AM (#1244882) Journal

      I understand... I used to work in NYC and I know what it was like walking from the Port Authority on 42 & 8th all the way over to 52nd & 6th Ave.

      That's the worst stretch in the city for pedestrian congestion, from a major port of entry for Bridge & Tunnel folks through Times Square to 6th Ave where people are coming in from Grand Central, too. The press of people is enough to jam things up, but when you add in tourists who block sidewalks or don't know how to walk in a crowd it gets nuts.

      But slow walking isn't really as much of an obstacle. If somebody is walking slowly you just dart around them. It's when they abruptly stop mid-block or veer right or left that the flow of traffic binds up.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Sunday May 15, @11:48PM (1 child)

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Sunday May 15, @11:48PM (#1245207)

      Seriously, do we need to complain about people because they walk too slow?

      I do. Maybe because I've walked with a long stride my entire life, but as I've aged I find it starts to get physically painful to walk in the sort of baby steps required to stay behind some of these slow walkers.

      • (Score: 2) by stretch611 on Monday May 16, @04:03PM

        by stretch611 (6199) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 16, @04:03PM (#1245344)

        Well, as I mention above... just be a man and deal with it. Walk around them if you are unhappy.

        And your complaints on needing to walk using baby steps is falling on deaf ears... At 6'11" (2.11m), I just happen to know a little bit about having longer legs and a longer stride than the vast majority of people walking on this earth.

        --
        Not a Mega Millions Jackpot winner
  • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Saturday May 14, @12:26PM

    by inertnet (4071) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 14, @12:26PM (#1244956)

    Sure, my subject is bad causation and correlation, but there are studies [livescience.com] that correlate walking speed with expected life span.

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