Free Speed Distributions for Pedestrian Traffic

Source: Transportation Research Board

"Free speeds are defined as the speeds pedestrians like to walk with when they are not influenced by other nearby pedestrians. Free speeds differ among pedestrians being influenced by personal characteristics, characteristics of the infrastructure and external conditions. Free speeds and their distribution play an important role in many traffic flow models, but are also relevant in other applications, such as the design of pedestrian facilities and public transport timetables. The fact that lots of observations on pedestrian speeds are described in literature stresses its importance. However, pedestrian free speeds cannot directly be observed, since the observer does not know whether the pedestrian is actually walking with his free speed. Free speeds based on observations therefore are usually underestimated. Available free speed estimation methods developed for car traffic appear to be not suited for pedestrian traffic. This paper presents a new method to estimate free speed distributions for pedestrian flows. It is a dedicated adaptation of a method used for car traffic. This paper does not only describe this estimation method, but also shows an application on pedestrian data from large-scale laboratory walking experiments, simulating different traffic conditions, such as unidirectional flows, opposite flows, and crossing flows. The approach appeared successful and may be applied for all types of pedestrian flows."

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