Road congestion has gradually worsened in the past decade as a result of rapidly growing populations and increased economic activity. Policy makers frequently promote public transit use to alleviate this problem. Increased access to public transit could also provide more opportunities for physical activity because most transit trips begin and/or end with walking. To enable and encourage walking to public transit stations, walking facilities (e.g. footpaths, walkways, ramps, stairs, etc) must be able to support the individual needs and level of comfort required by pedestrians utilising these facilities.
Planning and implementing walking facilities that cater to local pedestrian demands require an understanding of their characteristics. Current pedestrian design guides are based on pedestrian data collected in the early 1970’s where population demographics were significantly different to present compositions. Australia’s population for example is experiencing increased proportions of older adults, obese travellers, and parents with prams as a result of various factors. Although pedestrian facilities design guides recommend employing an adjustment factor for slower-walking and/or larger-area occupied pedestrians, limited guidance is given on its estimation.
This research develops a systematic methodology for incorporating pedestrian diversity in the walkway design process. A passenger car equivalent like factor termed standard pedestrian equivalent (SPE) factor is proposed to account for the physical and operational differences in pedestrian walking characteristics. Exploring methodologies used for vehicular traffic, the method relating traffic flows for the same performance measure was employed. A time-space (TS) performance measure was employed to relate equivalent flows for each category because it considers both temporal and spatial differences in pedestrian characteristics.
The pedestrian micro-simulation software VISSIM was successfully used in analysing and determining SPE factors in order to tackle pedestrian diversity. Pedestrian microsimulation has the potential to evaluate a myriad of hypothetical pedestrian scenarios without the risk of injury (from collisions, stampedes, etc.) to subject pedestrians. Also, pedestrian privacy issues and detailed data collection problems make micro-simulation a viable alternative to actual system study.
In the process of utilising this methodology, a SPE factor computation framework and calibration and validation framework were developed for pedestrian micro-simulation. Also, validation goodness of fit criteria for pedestrian micro-simulation were also identified. Data for the computation of SPE factors were generated from the validated models. An application of the computed SPE factors of older adults demonstrates the importance of considering diversity in design of walking facilities. This importance is better highlighted in the evaluation of congested facilities such as public transit facilities and stadia. Ignoring pedestrian diversity may mean the difference between being able to walk without difficulty or not.
Although the SPE results from the validated models seem reasonable, further investigation is required in its application when considering other pedestrian types, pedestrian combination and other locations. The methodology and framework developed in this research can be applied for developing local SPE factors and for further studies on pedestrian diversity.