Simulated Pedestrian Traffic Key Piece of the Puzzle for Sustainable Trips

PedestriansSociety’s interest in planning for pedestrian traffic is growing. Planners are increasingly concerned with ensuring that the interaction between different types of transportation, such as public transport, walking, and cycling, operates as flexibly as possible to increase the proportion of sustainable trips. Fredrik Johansson of VTI is dedicating his research in part to developing the microscopic simulation of pedestrian traffic – a key piece of the puzzle in this context. In June he presented his doctoral dissertation in the subject at Linköping University’s Department of Science and Technology.

Through his research, Fredrik Johansson wants to take this area of research to a new level: “What I’m hoping for and want to contribute to is for simulation to become a more reliable and useful tool when it comes to analysing and building infrastructure for pedestrian traffic”, says Johansson

The starting point is an established model

Johansson’s dissertation takes as its starting point an internationally established microscopic model, the Social Force Model (SFM) software often used by consultants and infrastructure owners in planning for the new construction or reconstruction of various types of travel centres and public transport stations. Johansson has found certain deficiencies in the model and has identified areas of improvement, including modifying the model to increase its precision. The “relaxation time” parameter, which in theory describes how rapidly a standing pedestrian accelerates to his/her desired speed, would need to be adapted so that the simulated pedestrians behave more like real ones. He believes that the “desired speed” parameter, i.e., how fast pedestrians prefer to go if there is no congestion, would also need refinement.

People want to walk faster in the morning than in the afternoon

In his research, Johansson has calibrated the model to data he collected at Stockholm’s Central Station. He has studied both relaxation time and the walking speeds desired by pedestrians in the morning and afternoon. The latter data indicate that the desired speed is lower in the afternoon than in the morning. This marks the first time the model has been calibrated to Swedish data; previously it had been calibrated only to foreign data. “This gives us a better indication of how the model should be adapted to Swedish conditions in particular”, says Johansson. Johansson’ dissertation in infrainformatics is entitled Microscopic Simulation of Pedestrian Traffic.

Fredrik JohanssonContact:
Fredrik Johansson, Research Assistant
VTI, Sweden

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