Pedestrian Dynamics

How does a building’s design and layout influence pedestrian behaviour? TU Delft is researching how people behave in different settings, i.e. stations, airports or inner-city public areas, and is developing computer simulations to improve new designs in order to reduce the number of pedestrian bottlenecks.

Pedestrian behaviour
Long queues of people waiting to go through customs at the airport, running into other passengers while trying to catch a train that is about to leave or having to walk around inconveniently located shops when you are in a hurry. When it comes to designing pedestrian areas, quite a few things can and do go wrong. However, without available data, accurately predicting pedestrian behaviour is virtually impossible. That is why researchers at TU Delft have been taking a close look at pedestrian behaviour in various settings over the past couple of years. We used the resulting relevant data to build a computer simulation model. Designers of pedestrian areas can use this model to test their designs before they are being built, which allows them to make changes if necessary.

We carried out extensive walking experiments with groups of volunteers in a controlled laboratory setting at the faculty. The behaviour of each individual pedestrian as well as that of various sub groups was recorded using video cameras, and each person’s tracks were monitored with special tracking software. Variables used during the experiments included free speed, bottleneck width and walking direction and settings varied from a train station platform to revolving doors. Researchers used all the data gathered to build two simulation models, Nomad and SimPed, which can be used to predict pedestrian behaviour and pedestrian flows.

Practical use
The computer models have a wide range of practical uses and Nomad has so far been used to test a number of real life designs. Consultancy and Engineering firm DHV, for instance, asked TU Delft to investigate the influence of entrance gates on pedestrian behaviour at three stations in Lisbon. Other uses include testing a bus station design in Rotterdam, the influence of shops in a Prague station and the design of an airport terminal for a low cost carrier.

We are currently working on extensive research into revolving doors. How do they influence pedestrian behaviour, what is the ideal design for the areas surrounding revolving doors and are there any new concepts for revolving doors that could improve pedestrian flow? Other research areas include the effect of pedestrian behaviour on the design of inner-city areas, during evacuation or on a train platform and the use of moving walkways in pedestrian areas.

Several TU Delft PhD and MSc students and staff members are involved in this research project, and we also collaborate with a number of institutions, such as ProRail, NS (Dutch Rail), the world’s largest manufacturer of revolving doors (Royal Boon Edam Group Holding BV) and Schiphol airport. 

To learn more about our research into pedestrian dynamics, please contact Winnie Daamen or Serge Hoogendoorn, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Transport & Planning section.
Telephone: +31 (0)15 27 84031 / 85475
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