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Behavioural Issues in Pedestrian Speed Choice and

Street Crossing Behaviour: A Review
Muhammad Moazzam Ishaque & Robert B. Noland
To cite this article: Muhammad Moazzam Ishaque & Robert B. Noland (2008) Behavioural
Issues in Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour: A Review, Transport Reviews,
28:1, 61-85, DOI: 10.1080/01441640701365239
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Published online: 04 Jan 2008.

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Date: 03 October 2016, At: 17:36

Transport Reviews, Vol. 28, No. 1, 6185, January 2008

Behavioural Issues in Pedestrian Speed Choice and

Street Crossing Behaviour: A Review


*Jacobs UK Ltd, Croydon, UK; **Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Centre for
Transport Studies, Imperial College London, London, UK
Taylor and Francis Ltd

(Received 10 October 2006; revised 20 February 2007; accepted 26 March 2007)


ABSTRACT This paper discusses issues that are encountered in the modelling of the operational behaviour of pedestrians such as the representation of pedestrian street crossing
movements and speed choice at a micro-scale. A comprehensive literature review is undertaken for various parameters of pedestrian movement that are of fundamental importance
in any pedestrian modelling approach. These parameters are pedestrian speeds, pedestrian
speedflowdensity relationships, pedestrian compliance to traffic signals, and pedestrian
gap acceptance while crossing the road. Based on the research evidence from the literature,
a modelling framework for examining pedestrian speed choice is presented that postulates
that pedestrian speed is a function of a pedestrians value of time, risk and capabilities.

Since the late 1980s, transport policy in many countries has sought to increase the
share of walking as a mode of transport and to increase the level of pedestrian
activity. There are many reasons for this policy goal, ranging from efforts to
curtail growth in car usage to reduce traffic and congestion and the associated
environmental impacts, to enhancing urban livelihoods, to more recent concerns
about obesity in the population and amongst children in particular. Underlying
the policy environment has been a need to understand the elements of pedestrian
behaviour and what specific policies and design measures can encourage
increased walking.
Representation of pedestrians in traffic models, in terms of the accuracy with
which their movements can be realistically simulated, is an area that has not
received much attention owing to the lack of demand from the end users of such
models, the urban transport planners. Models of traffic movements in urban areas
have traditionally ignored pedestrians. Batty (2001) gives two basic reasons for
this omission. First is the origin of transport planning as an institution in itself.
This institution owes its birth to large-scale investments in inter-urban highways
Correspondence Address: Robert B. Noland, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Centre
for Transport Studies, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK. Email: r.noland@imperial.
0144-1647 print/1464-5327 online/08/010061-25 2008 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/01441640701365239


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

in the USA in the 1950s, which were in response to the rapid increase in car
ownership. The investments spread to cover urban areas, but the original focus on
motorized transport continued and in many countries continues to this day. The
second reason cited by Batty (2001) is the scale of planning. Traffic models have
traditionally focused on analysing traffic movements, modal splits, and origins
and destinations that involve large numbers of people moving to and from large
transportation zones. The scales used in such models never reach the level where
detailed investigation of walking trips is feasible.
A range of methods have been used by researchers to study pedestrian behaviour and analyse measures of effectiveness, such as delay. The choice of technique
employed for such studies has depended on the level of behaviour under
investigation. Pedestrian behaviour has been classified at three different levels
(Hoogendoorn and Bovy, 2004; Daamen, 2004) (Figure 1).
At the strategic level the pedestrian decides what activities to perform and
whether to access those activities via walking. Short-term decisions are made at
the tactical level in order to fulfil the objectives set at the strategic level. These
short-term decisions include the order in which activities are to be performed,
where these activities are to be performed, and which route to use. The expected
choice set at the tactical level also affects the decisions taken at the strategic
level and hence the decision-making process is not strictly segregated but takes
place as a two-way communication between these two levels of decisionmaking.
Much research recently has sought to include pedestrians in a mode choice
model and to consider the micro-scale impacts of urban form and design (Cervero
and Kockleman, 1997). In practice it has become increasingly common to attempt
to qualitatively assess the pedestrian environment as an attribute in mode choice
models, such as the Pedestrian Environment Factor designed for the Portland
Land Use Transportation Air Quality Connection (LUTRAQ) studies in the 1990s
Figure 1 Levels in pedestrian behaviour (Daamen, 2004)

Figure 1.

Levels in pedestrian behaviour (Daamen, 2004)

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 63

(1000 Friends of Oregon, 1993, 1996, 1997). More recently, the public health
literature has assessed how obesity and walking behaviour are linked to the
details of urban design (Ewing et al., 2003; Sui, 2003). At a strategic level, most of
these studies have identified the details of urban design, such as presence of
pavements, street trees, slow traffic, and good aesthetics as being important for
encouraging walking. These trips may, however, not substitute for the bulk of
utilitarian travel such as commuting and major shopping trips, but can serve local
and recreational needs, such as school and playground trips for children, and
local recreational trips. Many of these issues are well summarized in a review in
Boarnet and Crane (2001) and are not covered here; these type of urban design
measures affect the choice of whether to walk or not and therefore represent a
strategic decision.
This review focuses on the operational level of pedestrian behaviour. At the
operational level, pedestrian behaviour involves instantaneous decisions that
affect pedestrian walking characteristics such as choice to walk fast, or slow, or
stop and wait, and when to cross a street. The decisions at the operational level
are affected by the choices made at the tactical and the strategic levels, for
example, to walk faster to save time (operational level), and take a route that
involves crossing roads that have no signalized pedestrian crossing (tactical
level), in order to reach a destination by walking (strategic level). The strategic
decision on whether to walk or not can be dependent on the tactical level, for
example, the choice of speed and the level of risk-taking in crossing streets,
whether signalled or not. These issues are important for the design of urban
areas and the traffic facilities within them. This was recognized over 40 years
ago by Buchanan et al. (1963), in the seminal report Traffic in Towns. Buchanan et
al. define the environmental capacity of a street to be largely represented by
the difficulty with which a pedestrian can cross it and the delay that they may
face, based on the volume of traffic, the width of the street, and the level of
pedestrian activity.
The specific operational issues associated with pedestrian activity reviewed
here include the speed at which pedestrians choose to travel and how this
varies with individuals and by situations, determination of pedestrian speed
flow relationships, and whether pedestrians choose to comply with street crossing regulations. These issues are important to understand as the basis for
further research in this area and for those seeking to implement design
strategies in urban areas. This is also useful for those designing and applying
some of the microsimulation tools becoming increasingly common in transport
The paper first provides a brief overview of some of the pedestrian microsimulation methods that are currently used, to provide some context for what
is available in current practice. The paper then reviews studies that have analysed pedestrian speeds at crossings and the behaviour associated with crossing,
such as gap acceptance behaviour and compliance rates. This is followed by a
review of studies of pedestrian speeds on pavements and how engineering
speedflow relationships have been determined for design purposes. The paper
concludes with a proposed theoretical behavioural framework of pedestrian
speed choice, based on the review. This is intended to provide a guide for
further research in these areas that can lead to a fuller understanding of the
many issues associated with improving transport facilities to accommodate
pedestrian movements.


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

Modelling of Pedestrian Movement

Pedestrian modelling at the operational level (Figure 1) is a complex behavioural
and engineering issue. Of interest to urban transport planners are the behavioural
issues of how pedestrians move in relation to other pedestrians, how they decide
to cross the road, how they vary their speed; and, on the engineering side, how
traffic control measures affect pedestrian travel times. Various modelling
approaches have attempted to take into account some of these elements; however,
there is still no ideal method available to integrate the modelling of pedestrian
and vehicular traffic.
Simulation techniques have been steadily improving over the last decade with
improvements in computational technologies and have been increasingly applied
to crowd movements and building evacuation scenarios with highly sophisticated behavioural algorithms. These include models where pedestrians are
modelled as particles or circles (in two dimensions) with different diameters and
velocities. Examples of such models are Helbing and Molnar (1995), Werner and
Helbing (2003) and Seyfried et al. (2006). Movement of pedestrian crowds have
also been compared with that of flowing fluids (e.g. Henderson, 1974; Helbing,
1992; Hughes, 2003). Other models have also been developed based both on cellular automata and agent-based approaches. Commercial examples of pedestrian
only models are PAXPORT (Birchall et al., 1994) and PEDROUTE (Maw and Dix,
1990), MPSM (Teknomo, 2006), PEDFLOW (Kerridge et al., 2001), SIMPED
(Daamen, 2004) and LEGION (Still, 2000). A significant amount of research has
been done on the merits of these models for specific scenarios such as fire emergencies (Kuligowski, 2004) and crowd movements (Davis Associates Ltd, 2003).
However, these models, though suitable for pedestrian behavioural simulations,
are not as yet comprehensive enough to be used for analysing pedestrian movement characteristics in urban street environments as they do not model vehicular
traffic and traffic control features.
These pedestrian models offer different levels of aggregation. In many the
pedestrians are modelled as individual agents with their own set of behavioural
properties (such as desired speed). The LEGION (Still, 2000) model mentioned
above is one such example. The quality of output from these models depends on
the quality of behavioural data associated with the agents. Earlier models tended
to work at a more aggregate level (primarily due to less powerful computers
being available). These models focus on pedestrian flows (sometimes being based
on gas or fluid dynamics). The individual behavioural properties of agents were
not taken into account. The input requirements for the models were based on
group behaviours such as those resulting in speedflow and speeddensity relationships where the variation of individual pedestrians speeds did not matter.
Examples of these models include models developed by Hoogendoorn and Bovy
(2004) and commercial examples such as PAXPORT (Birchall et al., 1994) and
PEDROUTE (Maw and Dix, 1990). Most recent research is focussed on modelling
individual agents. The review covers aspects important to both modelling
Advances have also taken place in the field of road traffic micro-simulation
with a number of models available (for a comparison of various commercial
models, see Jones et al., 2004; and Olstam and Tapani, 2004). Traffic microsimulation models have mostly been limited in their applications to motorized
traffic with limited functionality for bicycles and pedestrians. The modelling of

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 65

pedestrians have only been in the context of their affect on vehicular traffic such
as the delay caused to vehicles due to the presence of a pedestrian crossing.
An example of such a traffic micro-simulation tool based on vehicle following
algorithms, originally postulated by Wiedemann (1974) is VISSIM. Pedestrian
flows can be modelled in VISSIM either with or without interactions between
pedestrians (PTV, 2004). If there is no interaction between pedestrians then the
relationship between speed and flow will be essentially linear and speeds will be
equal to the desired pedestrian speed set by the analyst. Alternatively, pedestrian
flows can be modelled by using the vehicle-following algorithms, thus allowing
some interaction between pedestrians, although under the rules developed for
vehicles rather than any pedestrian-specific algorithms; this would, for example,
include passing and overtaking behaviour based on car following principles. In
this modelling environment it is possible to achieve a speedflow and speed
density relationship for which calibration can be attempted. Ishaque (2006) offers
one set of potential calibration parameters based on a validated set of data.
The ability of VISSIM to offer two approaches to pedestrian modelling gives it a
slight superiority over other traffic micro-simulation models such as Paramics
(SIAS, 2005), Aimsun (TSS, 2004), Corsim (FHWA, 2003) and Sumo (Krajzewicz
and Rssel, 2006) in which there is no separate algorithm for pedestrian modelling. Although not among the most sophisticated traffic micro-simulation software Dracula (Liu, 2005) has some advantages in that it allows modelling of
pedestrians with regard to variation in their temporal compliance with traffic
signals (complying/not complying to pedestrian green phase when crossing a
signal controlled pedestrian crossing). Many of these commercial packages will
likely provide enhanced pedestrian modelling features in the future as the user
community increasingly demands this capability. VISSIM is currently investigating incorporating the algorithms of Helbing (1992).
One of the main problems with modelling pedestrians in existing traffic microsimulation software is the requirement of bi- and multidirectional spatial paths
for pedestrian flow. Pedestrians move in various directions on the same path and
unlike vehicles they are not subject to left hand or right hand driving/walking
conditions. Vehicles only require unidirectional flow paths and this is how the
flows are modelled in traffic micro-simulation software.
Another important issue is the decisions made at a tactical level (Figure 1)
which are related to what pedestrians do at the operational level. Important here
is the pedestrian route choice and the definition of origin/destinations. Pedestrian route choice decisions are based on criteria that are different from those of
vehicles. Pedestrians have more freedom to choose their paths such as where they
want to cross the road, what side of the road they want to travel on and to what
degree they decide to comply with traffic regulations. Pedestrian origin/destinations zones are also not as spatially limited as those of vehicular traffic.
Pedestrian behavioural characteristics are much more diverse and complex in
comparison with those of vehicle drivers. Parameters such as pedestrian desired
speed, acceptable interpersonal distance, and acceptable gaps in traffic for road
crossing decisions, likely depend on a number of different parameters such as
demography, land use, weather, and time of day. In existing models there is no
simple way to set default values for these parameters.
Some of these behavioural issues have been considered by pedestrian-only
modelling tools. However, pending a combined model that independently
includes traffic micro-simulation behavioural algorithms with enhanced detail on


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

pedestrian behaviour, the options available to a researcher is to make best use of

the traffic simulation tools available by stretching the limits of the pedestrian
modelling options available. Ishaque (2006) discusses this in some detail and
proposes one approach.
A better understanding of pedestrian operational issues is necessary hopefully
to improve these modelling approaches, in particular interactions at street
crossings. This is discussed below with a view towards formulating a theory of
the various decisions made by pedestrians when travelling and interacting with
motorized traffic.
Pedestrian Speeds and Behaviour on Road Crossings
The speed of pedestrians is a major issue in the design and optimization of
pedestrian facilities. Small changes in desired speed, by as much as a 1 km/h
reduction, could increase total travel time far more significantly than similar
reductions in the speed of motorized modes. The level of effort required to maintain certain speeds can also be a critical factor in mode choice and the capability to
reach a desired destination. Most pedestrians have some ability to alter their
speed based on specific circumstances and time constraints. A related issue
affecting pedestrian behaviour is the type of road crossing infrastructure and how
this may delay pedestrian journeys.
Pedestrian speeds on road crossings have been studied against a number of
variables, mainly in order to determine the clearance intervals for safe road crossings. Some of the variables considered are pedestrian age, gender, trip purpose,
group size, physical disability, weather conditions, pedestrian delay, gap available in traffic, type of crossing and signal phase. Results have been reported in a
number of statistical forms such as mean speeds, median speeds, range of speeds,
and specific percentile values. An attempt is made here to present results of various studies so as to provide meaningful interpretations of pedestrian behaviour,
while noting the various limitations of the studies.
Age and Gender
The road crossing speeds of the elderly are particularly important since they generally travel slower than pedestrians in younger age categories, and hence, in general,
it is the speed of elderly pedestrians which define the minimum durations for
pedestrian phases and clearance intervals at controlled pedestrian crossings and
intersections. Many researchers have, therefore, specifically focused on determining the effect of age on road crossing speeds. Table 1 presents results from a number
of studies that have differentiated between older and younger pedestrians.
The elderly have been variously defined as 60 years or above or 65 years or
above. This difference is however of little importance as most studies are based on
revealed behaviour and separation of elderly and younger pedestrians is based
on best effort guesses on the part of observers. There is an inherent possibility of
bias in such observations as pedestrians gait, difficulty in walking or relatively
slow speed would increase the chances of categorizing such a pedestrian as
elderly, thereby resulting in a speed profile that might give a lower speed range
for elderly pedestrians, while overestimating the speed range of younger groups.
Researchers, however, try to minimize errors by training of observers and by
running trial runs against pedestrians of known ages.

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 67

Table 1. Pedestrian speeds at road crossings for adults and elderly. The sample
size and 15 percentile values are listed where known
Mean speed
Sjostedt (1967)
Cresswell et al. (1978)
Wilson and Grayson (1980)
Griffiths et al. (1984)
Bowman and Vecellio (1994)
Coffin and Morrall (1995)
Knoblauch et al. (1996)
Guerrier and Jolibois (1998)
Gates et al. (2006)
Fitzpatrick et al. (2006)

15 percentile speed










75 000




Sample size.
Median speed.
1 m/s = 3.6 km/h 2.25 mph.

Table 1 shows that most of the studies conducted in the last few years have
reported results, not just for mean values of speed, but also the 15 percentile
values and sometimes for the entire range of speed distribution. This is due to the
fact that mean speeds are not always the best criteria for safer designs especially
for signal controlled elements of road infrastructure, and in particular if design
criteria are aimed at minimizing the risk of the slowest pedestrians.
The studies from the UK (Cresswell et al., 1978; Wilson and Grayson, 1980;
Griffiths et al., 1984) have reported a mean speed of elderly pedestrians between
1.11 and 1.16 m/s. There is more variation in younger adult pedestrian speeds,
where mean speeds range between 1.32 and 1.57 m/s. An added complication in
comparing results for adults is the different definition of adults used in the three
studies. Cresswell et al. (1978) and Griffiths et al. (1984) have defined three age
groups; young, adults, and elderly; but have not defined the criteria they have
used. The mean speed of young pedestrians reported by Griffiths et al. is 1.72 m/
s (higher than that of adults) compared with 1.47 m/s (lower than that of adults)
reported by Cresswell et al. (1978). This adds to the uncertainty of what age
group constitutes young. The statistical significance of the difference is also not
Cresswell et al. (1978) collected data in Cardiff on three pelican (press-button
signal activated) crossings using video recordings. The work of Wilson and Grayson (1980) is based on 11 111 crossing observations at one site in London and two
in Southampton during off-peak hours using time-lapse photography. These
observations were carried out for random crossings and the sample size was
reduced to include only individual pedestrians who crossed the road straight and
did not experience any delay at the curb. Griffiths et al. (1984) collected data from
direct observations at 48 pelican crossings and 26 Zebra crossings in a number of
cities in England and Wales. The size of samples, type of pedestrian crossings and
land use in which their study was carried out are likely to have influenced the
results. However, due to lack of detailed results from Cresswell et al. (1978) and


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

Griffiths et al. (1984) it is not possible to draw any definite conclusions on how
these attributes affected speeds.
Wilson and Grayson (1980) have examined the relationship of pedestrian speed
with age and gender. No statistically significant difference was found in the mean
speeds of male (1.32 m/s) and female (1.27 m/s) pedestrians but when the data
was segregated into various age groups, noticeable differences were discovered.
Male teenagers had higher speeds in comparison with females; however, a
decline in speeds with age was found to be more pronounced in males than in
females. Above 60 years the mean speeds decreased to values below 1.2 m/s for
both genders, and above about 70 years of age, males were reported to be slower
than females.
Although only mean pedestrian speeds for the elderly are available from the
studies in the UK, the results are still important on three accounts. First, since
elderly pedestrians are likely to maximize their walking pace when crossing
streets (Bailey et al., 1992), their estimated speeds on crossings is likely near the
higher end of their capabilities. Second, the current UK government guidelines on
calculating the clearance interval following the pedestrian phase in a signal cycle
are based on a speed value of 1.2 m/s (Department for Transport (DfT), 2005).
This specified value is clearly insufficient from an elderly pedestrians perspective. The third important issue is that the guideline limit of 1.2 m/s has been in
use for a long time (Highways Agency, 1981) which shows a lack of consideration
given increases in the ageing population. Long cycle times that result in a large
delay to pedestrians might only cause frustration to a younger pedestrian, but an
elderly pedestrian would additionally find standing and waiting very tiring and
uncomfortable (Simes and Marin-Lamellet, 2002).
Studies from the USA (Bowman and Vecellio, 1994; Knoblauch et al., 1996; Guerrier and Jolibois, 1998; Gates et al., 2006; Fitzpatrick et al., 2006) show a greater variation in the road crossing speeds of the elderly compared with those found in the
UK studies. The mean speeds for elderly pedestrians vary between 0.97 and 1.27
m/s while the 15 percentile values are between 0.67 and 0.97 m/s. The mean adult
pedestrian speeds, as listed in Table 1, range between 1.35 and 1.51 m/s for the US
studies. This range is similar to those from the UK studies (1.321.57 m/s). The 15
percentile of adult speeds from the USA is in the range 1.001.25 m/s.
Relatively low pedestrian speeds are reported by Guerrier and Jolibois (1998)
who conducted their research on pedestrian speeds in the city of Miami Beach,
Florida. Data on pedestrian speeds was collected at five intersections using video
recording with 263 observations obtained including 40 for those observed to be 65
years or older. It was observed that clearance intervals at all intersections were
sufficient for the mean speeds of the elderly pedestrians but for the 15 percentile
values only one intersection provided adequate time. In a simultaneous questionnaire survey (not necessarily for the same sample for which speeds were
recorded) 29% of those surveyed were tourists, 31% reported having problems
with sight, and 33% reported problems with walking. This could explain the
lower mean speeds recorded in their study.
Coffin and Morrall (1995) based on their study in Canada, recommend a design
speed of 1.0 m/s to be used at mid-block crossings where there are a large
number of elderly pedestrians while Fitzpatrick et al. (2006) after a detailed field
study and a comprehensive speed comparison from the literature, recommended
a general design speed of 1.07 m/s to be reduced to 0.9 m/s where greater
consideration of elderly and pedestrians with walking problems is required.

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 69

DiPietro and King (1970) presented complete speed ranges based on gender,
group size and accepted gap in traffic. Their study was conducted on an uncontrolled mid-block crossing in West Virginia using time lapse photography. The
observed crossing was at an 8.8 m wide road with two way traffic flow and no
central median). For a sample of 740 observations statistically significant higher
speeds were measured for male pedestrians compared with those of female
pedestrians, and lower walking speeds were measured for groups of two or more
pedestrians in comparison with individuals. The size of the group had little effect
on speeds except at the lower ends of the speed range. Gates et al. (2006) also
found slower pedestrian speeds for those crossing in groups in comparison with
individuals (1.32 versus 1.44 m/s) and a small difference in speeds of female and
male pedestrians (1.4 versus 1.47 m/s).
The 15 percentile value of the speed range, from DiPietro and King (1970), was
0.76 m/s for individual pedestrians, 0.67 m/s for pedestrians in groups of two
and 0.61 m/s for pedestrians in groups of three and four. Broken down by
gender, the 15 percentile value for male pedestrians was 0.67 m/s and that for
female pedestrians was 0.58 m/s. It is not clear what the age distribution in the
sample was. It is interesting that measurement of such low 15 percentile pedestrian speeds seemed to not result in recommended changes in policy for setting
signal timings.
Sjostedt (1967, quoted by Sleight, 1972), based on data from Sweden, found that
children are the fastest group when crossing streets. This is not surprising since a
higher percentage of children cross streets running when compared with other
age groups (Van der Molen, 2002), especially if they are not in a group or accompanied (Grayson, 1975). Sjostedt (1967, quoted by Sleight, 1972) has, however,
measured faster speeds for elderly pedestrians compared with other studies, but
the reasons for this are not clear. Tanaboriboon and Guyano (1991) observed
pedestrian speeds on a signalized intersection in Bangkok and found crossing
speeds of male pedestrians to be 1.31 m/s and those of female pedestrians to be
1.23 m/s. Speeds were found to be comparatively higher on the crossings than on
the pavements. Lam et al. (1995) found mean speeds of 1.64 m/s at a signalized
intersection in Hong Kong.
Bennett et al. (2001) have examined the difficulty of walking and its impact on
pedestrian crossing speeds in Australia. This allows a fuller consideration of the
ability of vulnerable pedestrians, in addition to the walking elderly, to safely
cross a street. Bennett et al. (2001) have included adults accompanying a walking
child or pushing a pram (and hence walking at a slower speed) in the category of
those having a walking difficulty. The mean and 15 percentile values of road
crossing speeds were found to be 1.35 and 1.14 m/s for those categorized as
having a walking difficulty and 1.7 and 1.31 m/s for those without any walking
One of the obvious implications of the variation in walking speeds associated
with different age groups is the need to account adequately for this in simulation
models. Areas with a large fraction of elderly pedestrians will require different
timing sequences than those with younger pedestrians who are walking to work.
Delay and Crossing Types
Overall, pedestrian speed, which is associated with age and gender, both
determines the overall travel time needed to access destinations, but also is


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

affected by the delay associated with various crossing types and traffic flows. An
early analysis by Goldschmidt (1977) examined factors associated with pedestrian
delay at crossings and found that older people and children generally are delayed
longer than adults and that factors that influence delay include traffic flow, traffic
arrival patterns, the number of heavy vehicles, speed and road width.
Crompton (1979) analysed how crossing speeds vary with pedestrian delay at
randomly selected crossing points in London (Figure 2). As delay at the crossing
increases, the speed with which pedestrians cross the road also increases. This
increase is most noticeable when the pedestrian delay increases beyond 15 s.
Assuming that all the delay is caused by the lack of acceptable gaps in traffic, the
result indicates that if pedestrian delay increases beyond a certain threshold (15 s
in this case), pedestrians might perceive this delay to be excessive and try to
compensate for the lost time by walking faster than they otherwise would have.
The higher speeds when delayed could also reflect annoyance at being delayed
and a willingness to accept shorter gaps in traffic by walking faster.
Crompton (1979) also measured mean speeds for various crossing types. At
Zebra crossings (where pedestrians have priority over vehicles) and signal
controlled intersections mean speeds were 1.49 m/s. Mean speeds at crossings
with a pedestrian refuge were 1.71 m/s, at pelican crossings 1.74 m/s, and at
random crossings 1.8 m/s. Results were not segregated for age, gender and group
size and the variability of data was also not reported. In the same study mean
pedestrian delay was found to be lowest at Zebra crossings (4.9 s) followed by
random crossings (8.7 s), pedestrian refuges (12.8 s), signal controlled intersections (14.4 s), and the highest at pelican crossings (19.9 s).
Zebra crossings had both the lowest crossing speed and the lowest delay. Alternatively, pelican crossings have one of the higher crossing speeds and the greatest
delay. Both crossing types require the traffic to stop when the pedestrian crosses,
thus one would not expect the risk of crossing to affect the crossing speed.
Random crossings appear to lower mean delay, but have a higher speed, to
compensate for the lack of protection from vehicles; crossings with pedestrian
Figure 2 Mean pedestrian speed while crossing a road: relationship with pedestrian delay on a random crossing point (based on results from Crompton, 1979)

Figure 2.

Mean pedestrian speed while crossing a road: relationship with pedestrian delay on a
random crossing point (based on results from Crompton, 1979)

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 71

refuges (or medians) have lower mean delay (probably due to only crossing a
single lane of traffic), and relatively high crossing speeds. This suggests that the
characteristics associated with crossing infrastructure and the interaction with the
traffic flow can affect pedestrian speeds and delay.
Hine and Russell (1996), in a study seeking to find metrics to quantify the
barrier effect associated with roads, determined that pedestrian delay is associated with levels of traffic flow. Flow on the nearside crossing tends to have a
greater impact on delay than farside flow and they found this was particularly
true for older pedestrians.
These effects suggest pedestrians are making trade-offs between their delay,
their chosen crossing speed, and the risk that they take in crossing, as characterized by gap acceptance. Thus, it can be postulated that as delay increases, risk
taking increases, but mitigated by faster speeds to minimize risk. Less risk results
in slower speeds as does less delay. Gender and age effects also suggest that the
capability to walk at higher speeds is a limiting factor. The next section discusses
gap acceptance in more detail to more fully understand these potential trade-offs.
Gap Acceptance and Pedestrian Compliance
One of the microscale behaviours of pedestrian movement is the individual decision on how acceptable a gap in traffic is before deciding to cross a street. The
level of compliance with existing traffic control devices that regulate the crossing
point is another individual decision which is dependent on the gaps in traffic. The
speed at which pedestrians make a crossing is linked to both gap acceptance and
compliance behaviour. The interdependencies between these effects make it
difficult to fully classify the results and in what follows a discussion of various
studies is provided.
In an early study of gap acceptance Moore (1953) found that pedestrians who
accepted shorter gaps increased their crossing speeds. Those that accepted gaps
of less than 3 s walked at a speed of 1.57 m/s while those accepting longer gaps of
7 s walked at 1.2 m/s, on average. In a more recent study, DiPietro and King
(1970) also found higher walking speeds for gaps shorter than 7 s when crossing
against nearside traffic. Thus, evidence is seen that pedestrian speed choice is
adaptable to specific situations and the choice of relative risk (represented by gap
choice) that the pedestrian accepts.
Cohen et al. (1955) conducted research on the proportion of pedestrians accepting various gaps in traffic for a 7 m long crossing (from curb to pedestrian refuge)
in Manchester. Results of this study showed that 92% of pedestrians would cross
the road when the available gap was 7 s while no one crossed the road when gaps
were shorter than 1.5 s and everyone crossed the road when gaps were 10.5 s or
greater. Male pedestrians accepted shorter gaps in comparison with female
pedestrians in all age groups except in the 3145-year age category where no
significant difference was found. For female pedestrians, the young and elderly
accepted longer gaps than those in the middle-age groups while for male pedestrians young males accepted shorter gaps than those in the older age groups. This
again indicates the variation in behaviour between different groups.
Wilson and Grayson (1980) analysed the proportion of pedestrians accepting
gaps of less than 2 s at a crossing with two-way traffic flow. They found 3.4% of
males and 2.1% of females accepting these very short gaps when crossing against
nearside traffic. The proportion of those accepting such small gaps on the far side


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

was higher at 6.2 and 4.8%. A similar effect was found by Das et al. (2005) who
found that those waiting on pedestrian refuges (or medians) are more willing to
accept shorter gaps, than those beginning the first stage of a road crossing. This
could perhaps indicate that those who are willing to wait on a median refuge
(which may be a risky place to wait) are greater risk-takers overall, or perhaps are
more time constrained and thus accept a greater level of risk.
Alternatively, DiPietro and King (1970) found that as the waiting time on the
curb increases the accepted gaps become longer. In other words the pedestrians
with longer delay at the curb are those who accept (or need) longer gaps in traffic
to cross the road. The results also show that male pedestrians accepted shorter
gaps than female pedestrians and groups of pedestrians accepted shorter gaps
than individuals. This latter result is somewhat surprising, since pedestrians in
groups have slower speeds than individuals. This finding would probably be
indicative of peer pressure to cross or lack of attention, but also might be a result
of a perception of safety in numbers. The minimum gaps accepted were 3 s for
nearside traffic and 10 s for both nearside and farside traffic. The far greater gap
needed in two way traffic streams shows the importance of pedestrian refuges in
reducing pedestrian delay.
Das et al. (2005) analysed revealed preference data based on video recordings of
a crossing in India. They estimate an ordered probit model of gap acceptance.
One of their key findings is that children and younger people accept gaps that
older people reject, but find no difference due to gender. Their results also
suggest that at signalized intersections, pedestrians may become more patient as
they wait longer, since they know the signal will change sooner.
Pedestrian crossing speed also depends on what stage of a signal cycle the
pedestrian arrives at the road crossing. Those arriving during the clearance
interval that follows the pedestrian phase may still attempt to cross the road,
by increasing their speed, rather than choosing to wait for the next pedestrian
phase (Virkler, 1998a). Lam et al. (1995) found pedestrian speeds are higher
during the pedestrian red phase in comparison with the pedestrian green
phase in Hong Kong (1.5 versus 1.27 m/s). Similarly Gates et al. (2006) found
higher speeds for pedestrians crossing outside of the pedestrian green phase
(1.52 m/s) in comparison with those crossing during the pedestrian green
phase (1.37 m/s).
Pedestrian non-compliance with crossing regulations is dependent on the
relative risk of non-compliance. Studies have found that when the width of
the carriageway is smaller or when there is a median refuge, non-compliance
rates increase. Table 2 lists the results of a variety of studies that examined
non-compliance rates. In general, these studies find significant variation
depending on both the details of the road layout and signal type, but also
some variations by gender and age of the pedestrian. The type of non-compliance also varied. Sometimes this involves crossing against a flashing signal
(temporal non-compliance) and frequently it involves crossing near but not on
the designated crossing point (spatial non-compliance). Non-compliance is
certainly a strategy that pedestrians use to reduce their overall travel time. For
example, Virkler (1998b) found that estimated pedestrian delay is reduced by
about 22%.
Chu et al. (2004) estimated a model for choice of street crossing, based on statedpreference data collected in Florida and found that crossing distance (road width)
and extra walking distance required to reach an intersection were important




Ohio, USA

Brisbane, Australia

Texas, USA

Kansas, USA

Michigan, USA

Xian, China


Jacobs and Wilson (1967)

Jacobs et al. (1968)

Rouphail (1984)

Virkler (1998b)

Stephanie and
Machemehl (1999)
Eustace (2001)

Sisiopiku and Akin (2003)

Yang et al. (2006)

91% when flashing dont

walk, 39% when red
8198% when flashing
dont walk
4257%, 17% spatial noncompliance



73% male, 65% female

Non-compliance rate

mid-block signalized crossing

signalized intersections

signalized crossing

at signalized intersections

one-stage crossing, crossing

with a median refuge
mid-block crossings

signalized and zebra crossings

Crossing type

Table 2. Pedestrian non-compliance rates

based on a questionnaire; non-compliance increased

when others crossed, when reported being in a
hurry, and when traffic volumes were low

also found relationship to street width, junction

width, traffic volume, and prior experience

10% spatial non-compliance, 5% temporal noncompliance

mass non-compliance occurred when all vehicles
had passed

elderly and children more likely to comply;

compliance greater at a zebra than at signalized


Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 73


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

factors in spatial non-compliance. Other results found that larger crossing

distances deters jay-walking, while greater walking distances to intersections
with crossing points increases the likelihood of a mid-block crossing, though this
likelihood decreases as traffic volumes increase. Thus, it can be seen from this
study clear trade-offs being made between risk taking and travel time in how
pedestrians behave.
It is important to note that in many countries (the UK being a major exception),
spatial and/or temporal non-compliance is illegal and an offender could receive a
fine. The high levels of non-compliance indicate that traffic control policies do not
adequately account for pedestrian behaviour and their travel needs, especially if
they risk a financial penalty. However, most pedestrians recognize their own
capabilities in safely crossing streets, as indicated by age and gender differences
in gap acceptance, most only adopt non-complying behaviour when gaps are
sufficient and street widths are narrower (or there is a median refuge). The effect
of group behaviour is less clear, and this is certainly an area that could benefit
from more investigation.
Pedestrian Speeds on Sidewalks
Mean walking speeds on sidewalks are strongly influenced by the presence of
other pedestrians. This phenomenon is similar to congested traffic and can be
used to develop relations between pedestrian density and pedestrian free-flow
speeds, which are typically the basis of the more aggregate models discussed
previously. Pedestrian density is the number of pedestrians present in a unit area.
The pedestrian desired speed is the speed with which a pedestrian would walk
when pedestrian densities are very low and the presence of other pedestrians
does not have any effect on pedestrian speeds. Such conditions and speeds are
also called free-flow conditions and free-flow speeds in traffic engineering. The
paper first discusses measurements of free-flow speeds (mean speeds are summarized in Tables 3 and 4) and then reviews research on speedflow densities for
Free Flow Speeds
Summary results of studies on pedestrian free-flow speeds are listed in Table 3.
Overall these studies show that young males tend to have the fastest walking
speeds and older people have the slowest. Females have slower speeds than
males and children tend to have faster speeds, although young children tend to
slow women down. There is evidence that different types of walking trips result
in different mean speeds, as suggested by the difference in speeds by time of
day. Most studies fail to report detailed statistics on statistical significance of
mean differences, however sample sizes are generally sufficient. Better understanding of the variance in speeds would be helpful as there is undoubtedly
significant variation between individuals and the situations in which speeds
OFlaherty and Parkinson (1972) also observed speeds of pedestrians in groups
to be about 9% lower than the speed of single pedestrians. Women accompanying
children had a 16% lower speed than single women. Speeds on approaches to
pedestrian crossings were 7% higher than elsewhere on the pavement. This may
indicate a need to cross before a signal changes or traffic approaches.

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 75

Willis et al. (2004) found that the variation in speeds (measured as the standard
deviation) was higher for males (0.33 m/s) than females (0.25 m/s) and higher
for children (0.48 m/s) than for those above 25 years of age including the elderly
(0.24 m/s).
Hoel (1968) found speeds to vary with temperature with higher speeds at low
temperatures. Harrell (1990) examined crossing speeds in very cold temperatures
in Edmonton, Alberta, and found that extreme cold leads to faster walking
speeds. Hoel did not find any speed variation associated with the condition of the
walking surface, pavement obstructions, traffic flows on carriageways and the
type of adjacent building.
Other than in surface street environments, pedestrian speeds have been studied
in public transport terminals, inside buildings, in controlled environments such as
pedestrian laboratories, on pedestrian footbridges and subways and in crowded
situations such as stadium exits and pilgrimage sites. The main objectives of these
measurements are for better safety design of pedestrian facilities and to better plan
for emergency evacuation situations. Free-flow speeds are similar to pavement
speeds and a summary of these results is presented in Table 4.
Pedestrian SpeedFlowDensity Relationships
While free-flow speeds are useful for estimating desired speeds and travel times
in uncongested conditions, in crowded situations pedestrian interactions with
other pedestrians will slow their speed. Speeddensity relationships for
pedestrian flows have been derived similar to engineering formulas for road traffic. The speeddensity relationship formulas from various studies are listed in
Table 5 and shown in Figure 3 (for research done in the UK) and Figure 4 (for
studies elsewhere). Many of the studies which derived mean speeds, discussed
previously, were aimed at deriving these relationships.
Most researchers have used the basic traffic flow equation:

Figure 43 Pedestrian speedflow

of the
in the
on on
in Table
in Table
5 5, except for Hankin and Wright (1958), which was redrawn based on their figures 1 and 3; and Brocklehurst et al. (2005) based on their figure 8

Flow = speed density

Table 3. Pedestrian free-flow speeds on sidewalks

Study location

Mean speed

Older (1968)
Hoel (1968)

Leeds, UK

1.3 m/s
1.5 m/s (male), 1.41 m/s (female)


1.32 m/s (male), 1.15 m/s (female),

1.27 m/s (students), 1.23 m/s
(adults), 0.9 m/s (elderly)
1.17 m/s (female), 1.27 m/s (male
children), 0.85 (elderly male), 0.80
(elderly female)
1.52 m/s (male), 1.42 m/s (female),
1.16 m/s (age > 65), 1.55 m/s (age
1625), 1.53 m/s (age < 16)

OFlaherty and
Parkinson (1972)
Tanaboriboon et al.
Tanaboriboon and
Guyano (1991)


Willis et al. (2004)

York and
Edinburgh, UK

Mean speed by time of


1.5 m/s (morning), 1.36

m/s (afternoon)

1.5 m/s (male), 1.36 m/s (female)

1.5 m/s (morning), 1.44

m/s (noon), 1.51 m/s


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

Table 4. Pedestrian free-flow speeds in various off-road conditions



Mean speed

Hankin and Wright (1958)

Daly et al. (1991)

1.61 m/s
1.53 m/s

Brocklehurst et al. (2005)

London Underground tunnels

London Underground station
pedestrian path in Ascot, UK

Fruin (1987)

bus and train stations in USA

Daamen and Hoogendoorn

Sarkar and Janardhan (2001)

laboratory study

inter-modal transfer station

tunnel, Calcutta, India

1.51 m/s (male)a, 1.26 m/s

(female)a, 1.3 m/s (mixed groups)
1.37 m/s (male), 1.29 m/s
1.441.64 m/s
1.46 m/s

It is not clear from the study if these results are for groups or individuals or both.

to derive relationships between flow (number of pedestrians walking across a

unit width of path in a unit time) and speed, and flow and density (number of
pedestrians in a unit area) based on data collected on speed and density. Some
have also used space (area available per person) as a reciprocal of density
(persons per unit area).
Variation of pedestrian speed and flow with changes in pedestrian densities
were first studied by Hankin and Wright (1958) to measure the capacity of
subways for London Underground stations. Experiments were also conducted in
a controlled environment in a school. They suggested a maximum design flow of
5300 pedestrian flow per metre width of path per hour (ped/m/h). Daly et al.
(1991) found a maximum flow capacity of 5160 ped/m/h in pedestrian passageways in Underground stations in London, a value slightly lower than that
suggested by Hankin and Wright.
Older (1968) based his study on data collected in shopping streets in London
and found a maximum flow of 4600 ped/m/h. It was also found that pedestrians began walking in the carriageway once the sidewalks became crowded. This
could explain the difference between the maximum flow values in subways
versus shopping streets. Older also found no difference in speeds for bi-directional flows (when pedestrians are walking in the opposite directions on the
same path) for the opposing flow ratios of 50:50 and 20:80. Another study
conducted in a shopping area in Leeds based the results on data collected at four
segments on the same sidewalk and found small differences which resulted
from differences in the immediate local environment, such as the presence of a
bus stop, people standing in front of shops (window shoppers), and a nearby
pelican crossing (OFlaherty and Parkinson, 1972). A study on spectator movements in Ascot, UK, found the speeds at high densities lower than those
observed in subway passages and shopping streets (Brocklehurst et al., 2005)
suggesting the more relaxed attitude of the spectators and lack of urgency associated with recreational walking.
Most of the fitted curves are linear with some non-linear fits. Much of the
variation in the fitted relationships is likely due to differences in trip purposes of
the sample populations. This is clear from the speeddensity curve from Navin
and Wheeler (1969) with young students hurrying between classes, and Virkler

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 77

Table 5.

Pedestrian speeddensity relationships proposed by various



Speed (v)density (k) relationships

Hankin and Wright (1958)

Older (1968)
Navin and Wheeler (1969)
Fruin (1971), unidirectional
Fruin (1971), bi-directional
OFlaherty and Parkinson (1972)

not defined mathematically

v = 1.31 0.34k
v = 2.13 0.79k
v = 1.43 0.35k
v = 1.36 0.34k
v = 1.37 0.36k (near empty shop)
v = 1.46 0.49k (near bus stop)
v = 1.53 0.49k (near crossing)
v = 1.42 0.44k (near clothing shop)
v = 1.27 0.12k (k < 0.6)
v = 1.33 0.27k (0.60 < k < 0.75)
v = 1.62 0.73k (k > 0.75)
v = 1.26 0.26k
v = (0.32 + 2.05v 1.55v2)/k
v = 1.29 0.36k (indoor walkway)
v = e(0.38 0.57 k) (outdoor walkway)
v = 1.42e(0.347k^2 ) (Signalised crossing)
v = 1.67e(0.5 k) (Signalised crossing)
v = 1.01 e(0.24k) (k < 1.07)
v = 0.61 ln(4.32/k) (k > 1.07)
v = 1.46 0.35k
not defined mathematically

Polus et al. (1983), three regime

Tanaboriboon et al. (1986)

Al-Masaeid et al. (1993)
Lam et al. (1995)

Virkler and Elayadath (1994), two regime

Sarkar and Janardhan (2001)
Brocklehurst et al. (2005)
Relationships are presented in metric units: v, m/s; k, ped/m2.

and Elayadath (1994) with spectators moving slowly due to the non urgency of
their trip (Figure 4). Navin and Wheeler estimated a linear relationship between
speed and density; whereas Virker and Elayadath proposed a two regime
relationship (for densities lower and higher than 1.07 ped/m2). Polus et al. (1983)
also compared one- and three-regime models (for densities in the range of < 0.6,
0.60.75 and > 0.75 ped/m2). The three regime model gave a better fit with the
observed data.
Unlike Older (1968), Navin and Wheeler (1969) found loss of capacity due to bidirectional flow. At densities of 1.07 ped/m2 they estimated a loss of flow
capacity of 4% (compared with unidirectional flow) with bi-directional flow ratios
of 50:50 that increased steadily to a 14.5% loss of flow capacity with bi-directional
flow ratios of 90:10. The unidirectional capacity of footways was estimated to be
5100 ped/m/h.
Fruin (1971) proposed two linear models for uni- and bi-directional pedestrian
flows based on data collected in a bus terminal in New York City with high
commuter traffic. Separate models also suggested some loss of capacity due to bidirectional flow. The curves exhibit somewhat higher speeds at lower densities
than for indoor walkways at a train station as found by Lam et al. (1995) in Hong
Kong. It is difficult to compare these two results with those found by Hankin and
Wright (1958) for London Underground stations because of the use of different
modelling approaches (linear versus non-linear); however, at lower and higher
density the Fruin model is very close to that of Hankin and Wright. Fruin found
maximum flow volumes of 5150 and 4850 ped/m/h for uni- and bi-directional


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

Figure 3. Pedestrian speeddensity relationships from various studies in the UK. All figures are
based on plotting the formulas in Table 5, except for Hankin and Wright (1958), which was redrawn
based on their figures 1 and 3; and Brocklehurst et al. (2005) based on their figure 8

flows, respectively, values slightly less than the design limit of 5300 ped/m/h
suggested by Hankin and Wright. Lam et al. found a much lower capacity for
indoor walkways at 4080 ped/m/h.
For shopping streets the model proposed by Tanaboriboon et al. (1986) based on
data from Singapore and by Polus et al. (1983) from Israel are similar. They also
match Olders model at lower densities. Lam et al. (1995) also proposed two nonlinear models for pedestrian signal control crossings both of which diverge from
each other at lower and higher densities but give the same results for an intermediate range of densities. The capacity of the two crossings is 3600 and 5400 ped/
m/h, which is a significant difference. The reasons for the difference in the
models and capacities are not clear.
Al-Masaeid et al. (1993) collected data on pedestrian walking characteristics
in Jordan and found that some pedestrians walked on carriageways even at
lower densities; however, the proportion walking on the carriageway increased
substantially as the densities on the sidewalk increased. It was also found that
bi-directional flow caused capacity (measured to be 3590 ped/m/h) to
decrease as much as 25% from the maximum unidirectional capacity. The
model proposed by Sarkar and Janardhan (2001) bears close resemblance to
that of Al-Masaeid et al. (1993) even though one is linear and the other nonlinear. This suggests that relationships in developing countries could have
different effects than in developed countries. Clearly the relative levels of
walking versus car usage, as well as the suitability of pedestrian infrastructure
plays a role.

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 79

Figure 4.

Pedestrian speedflow relationships from studies outside of the UK. All figures are based
on plotting the formulas in Table 5


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

There are, however, comparatively wide differences in the speedflowdensity

relationships for pedestrians compared with those for vehicular traffic. The
modelling approaches always make a number of assumptions in order to approximate pedestrian behaviour and generally ignore the fact that pedestrians are
much more in control of their movements and speed choice is highly dependent
on trip purpose, value of time, physiological attributes, route choice and environmental conditions which tend to be averaged out in most speedflow models.
Clearly, this is an area for more detailed research to more finely tune the available
relationships which are frequently the basis for planning pedestrian facilities; or,
alternatively, the behavioural characteristics of individuals need to be more
accurately modelled.
Theoretical Framework for Pedestrian Behaviour
The review of pedestrian speeds and behaviour when crossing streets provides
many useful insights on understanding pedestrian behaviour. Various general
trends can be found in that speed choice is associated with age, gender, trip
purpose, group dynamics, flow density, gaps in traffic, road width, and the type
of street crossing. The choice of speed is largely limited by the capability of the
pedestrian. For example, older pedestrians and those with walking difficulties,
tend to travel slower. Female pedestrians also tend to travel slower, especially if
accompanied by young children. Young males tend to travel fastest. Utilitarian
trips have a faster walking speed than recreational, tourist, and group activities.
Large flows of pedestrians obviously reduce the optimal selection of speed
among individuals, as indicated by the speedflow relationships that have been
documented in the literature.
The crossing of streets, which in some cases can be a risky endeavour for
pedestrians, is clearly controlled by a consciousness of what those risks are. Gap
acceptance rates suggest that pedestrians tend to choose safe crossing gaps and
that individual gap acceptance levels are strongly mitigated by individual
capabilities. For example, older people, who walk slower, will select longer gaps.
The width of the crossing point also affects gap acceptance rates, clearly showing
awareness on the pedestrians part of the risks they are taking (or in most cases,
risks that are avoided through rational decisions).
That decision-making process can be formalized by specifying the choice of
speed (S) based on the capabilities of the pedestrian (C), their value of time (V),
and the potential risk that they are taking (R):
S = f (C , V , R )
In this way it is apparent that various trade-offs are made between the various
attributes and how they affect the speed choice of pedestrians. Within a broader
framework, if speed (and ultimately travel times), affect utility associated with
being a pedestrian, then this can influence whether an individual decides to travel
by walking or by another mode.
Changes in pedestrian capabilities would clearly have an impact on individual
speed choice. Capabilities, as such, are difficult to change as they are often related
to individual characteristics. They can be improved, however, by making
pavement surfaces smoother and safer for older people. Capabilities clearly
interact with the risk associated with traffic. If risk can be reduced, then for a

Pedestrian Speed Choice and Street Crossing Behaviour 81

given level of capability, travel times could be lower since there would be less
delay due to risk avoidance. For example, this could be done by slowing traffic
and also by increasing pedestrian signal cycle times, as older people tend to wait
for longer gaps in traffic.
The value of time associated with pedestrians is dependent on the trip purpose,
with commuting trips generally having a higher value. This is partly seen by the
higher speeds of commuting pedestrians during peak hours and relative to those
shopping or walking in recreational situations. Pedestrians in groups also tend to
walk slower, perhaps due to these being recreational trips. The way pedestrians
value time also has implications for risk taking; when there is excessive delay at
street crossings, non-compliance with signals can increase. Likewise the speed at
which pedestrians approach a crossing as well as the speed with which the street
is crossed is partly dependent on how much green time there is. Those pedestrians attempting to avoid a crossing delay are only attempting to minimize their
wait time.
The greater the risk involved in walking, the higher will be the walking speed.
For example, speeds while crossing streets are higher than pavement walking
speeds. Risk, however, can also increase pedestrian delay (at crossings) and make
overall speeds slower. Increased risk to pedestrians clearly affects both the choice
of speed (and thus the utility associated with the choice of being a pedestrian)
and the choice of whether to walk or use an alternative mode. The perception of
risk can also be an important factor and if risks are not correctly assessed can
distort optimal choices. For example, younger males may not correctly perceive
crossing risks and thus cross under more dangerous conditions, while older
women may over-perceive the risks associated with crossing, independent of
reduced capabilities.
The capability of individuals also affects their risk-taking behaviour; Harrell
(1990) found that older people and women tend to be more cautious in crossing
streets. Group dynamics also can affect risk-taking decisions, although there is
little research in this area. Harrell found that when more pedestrians are present,
levels of caution while crossing streets is less. This could be due to a perception
that a large group is more visible to motorists and thus that risk is reduced; this
could also explain the slower speeds when a group is walking and crossing a
street, although this could also be specific to trip purpose and many other
The framework proposed above parallels the safety theory proposed by
Noland (2006) whereby heightened risk can reduce mobility. For example, the
trade-offs between risk and travel time fits within this theory and the more
specific risk compensation hypothesis of Peltzman (1975). This framework is
clearly dependent on the perceptions of risk that individuals have; if their perceptions are faulty, then their crossing decisions may not be optimal. Capability also
clearly affects risk-taking decisions as does the value of time associated with a
given walking trip.
This review has highlighted the wide variation in pedestrian movement
characteristics as demonstrated by the literature review on pedestrian free-flow
speeds, speeddensity relationships, gap acceptance and spatial and temporal
compliance. These variations show the highly complex nature of pedestrian


M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland

behaviour and the role of numerous variables that influence this behaviour. At
the microscopic level, individual pedestrian movements are dependent on both
individual characteristics, the situation and type of trip being made, the presence
of other pedestrians, whether the pedestrian is in a group, and the road crossing
infrastructure and characteristics of the traffic flow and speed.
This paper provides a review of some of the key empirical results on how
pedestrians choose their speeds and cross the road. These results are interpreted
to formulate a theoretical model that can explain the various trade-offs made by
individuals. This is formulated as a choice of speed based on individual capabilities, value of time, and the risk of the specific situation.
Consideration of these trade-offs can provide a useful framework for analysing
pedestrian policy proposals and for understanding the key trade-offs that individual pedestrians make. It is hoped that an understanding of these issues will
increase the awareness and sensitivity of transport planners and engineers to
these issues in specific site designs, rather than focusing on prescriptive
standards. This framework may also provide a useful guide for further improving
pedestrian modelling techniques.
The authors acknowledge the support from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, for
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