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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:

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

Original Submission

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  • (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 hate when I put something off to tomorrow, and tomorrow arrives.
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  • (Score: 1) by anubi on Saturday May 14, @12:14AM (6 children)

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


      "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. []

        "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.