Developing the Behavioural Rules for an Agent-based Model of Pedestrian Movement



Developing the Behavioural Rules for an Agent-based Model of Pedestrian Movement

Authors

WILLIS A, KUKLA R, HINE J AND KERRIDGE J, Transport Research Institute, Napier University, UK

Description

The recent shift in emphasis towards walking as a safe, healthy and sustainable mode of transport presents a number of practical problems for the urban planner. Until recently, urban planning has largely placed the road user at the centre of infra-structu

Abstract

The recent shift in emphasis towards walking as a safe, healthy and sustainable mode of transport presents a number of practical problems for the urban planner. Until recently, urban planning has largely placed the road user at the centre of infra-structural design, with significant implications for the perceived attractiveness of pedestrian environments (see the National Consumer Council Survey, 1987). This, together with more generalised changes in the pace of urban life and the dispersal of towns and cities, has played a significant role in the decreasing modal share of walking observed over the last quarter of the twentieth century. Our governments' recent commitments to reversing this decline is evidenced by their decision to charge local authorities with developing local Walking Strategies (DETR, 1998; Scottish Executive, 1998).

Encouraging people to walk, however, is not trivial. In order to increase the number of pedestrian journeys within a given area, walking (either as a mode of transport, or as a leisure activity) must be made more attractive. However, remarkably few empirical studies have addressed the issue of how this might be achieved. Effective 'planning for pedestrians' requires a satisfactory understanding of two broad issues: first, what factors are most important in individual decisions to walk; and second, which measures are successful in encouraging walking. Nonetheless, even as late as 1996, the Department of Transport admitted that these issues remain poorly understood, stating that: "little is known about the determinants of pedestrian behaviour and trip- making activity and which measures are more effective in encouraging walking'. This picture remains little changed today.

This paper describes the development of a microscopic model of pedestrian movement (PEDFLOW) that can simulate the effects of environmental layout on how pedestrians negotiate the walking environment. Its approach is novel in two important regards: first, unlike most current models of pedestrian movement, PEDFLOW takes an agent-based approach, allowing the characteristics of individual 'virtual' pedestrians to be assigned and varied as required; second, the development of the model will be informed by empirical studies of how pedestrians behave 'in real life'. On their own, these studies will enhance current understanding of which factors influence individuals' decisions to walk a certain route and also, through 'before-and-after' studies, which measures are successful in achievingdesired changes in pedestrian mobility and walking behaviour.

Following a brief overview of the prototype PEDFLOW model (section 2), the paper will outline how behavioural research can be applied to yield important insights into naturalistic pedestrian behaviour: section 3 describes the development of a novel methodological protocol, using both observational and interview techniques, aimed at deriving realistic behavioural 'rules' for subsequent inclusion in the model.

Publisher

Association for European Transport