Recommended Walking Speeds for Pedestrian Clearance Timing Base on Pedestrian Characteristics

Source: University of Wisconsin, Madison

"A multi-factor analysis of variance showed that pedestrian walking speed was dependent upon age and disability, traffic control condition, and group size. Pedestrians over the age of 65 (n = 326) were the slowest among all age groups with a mean and 15th percentile walking speed of 3.81 and 3.02 ft/s, respectively. Children hand-assisted by adults and physically disabled persons showed crossing speeds similar to those of persons over the age of 65. Furthermore, groups of two or more pedestrians crossed 0.4 to 0.6 ft/s slower than individual crossers. Thus, the commonly used 4.0 ft/s walking speed was found to not provide ample clearance time for the majority of pedestrians over the age of 65, children assisted by adults, physically disabled persons, and large groups of pedestrians. Based on the data reported here, a 3.8 ft/s walking speed is recommended for timing pedestrian clearance intervals (i.e., Flashing Don't Walk indication) at locations with normal pedestrian demographics (i.e., downtown areas, shopping areas, most neighborhoods, schools areas) or locations where the age or physical disability status of the pedestrian population is unknown. When the proportion of pedestrians over the age of 65 exceeds 20, 30, 40, and 50 percent of the total pedestrians at a location, walking speeds of 3.6, 3.5, 3.4, and 3.3 ft/s, respectively, are recommended for pedestrian clearance timings. A 2.9 ft/s walking speed is recommended for intersections where nearly all of the pedestrians are over age 65. A 4.0 ft/s walking speed is appropriate only for locations with very few older pedestrians, assisted children, or disabled persons, such as college campuses."

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