Understanding Pedestrian Comfort in European Cities: How to Improve Walking Conditions

Understanding Pedestrian Comfort in European Cities: How to Improve Walking Conditions


L √ėvstedal, SINTEF; E Ryeng, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO



This paper presents results concerning pedestrian comfort from the PROMPT project (New means to PROMote Pedestrian Traffic in cities) based on case studies in six European countries. Comfort is one of several aspects affecting pedestrians being studied in the PROMPT project. We define pedestrian comfort as a positive emotional reaction to external surroundings (the walking environment) and to situations, including physiological, physical, social and psychological reactions. Comfort is also a cognitive comparison between actual objects and some point of reference, meaning that earlier experience and what the pedestrian is used to affects her evaluation of comfort. Some initial hypothesises on pedestrian comfort were suggested: Pedestrian comfort 1) is hierarchical, 2) depends on surroundings, 3) depends on situation, and 4) depends on the individual. A factor analysis based on the Norwegian interviews revealed four different pedestrian types; the easy-going pedestrian, the pedestrian seeking security away from traffic, the pedestrian seeking air, space and light, and the pedestrian seeking social pleasure. Based on interviews and mapping undertaken in all six participating countries, several questions will be answered: Are the initial hypotheses supported by the interview data? Which are the comfort factors planners can influence, and how important are these factors for the feeling of pedestrian comfort? Which seem to be the most important factors to take into consideration when planning for a better pedestrian infrastructure in city centres and in suburban areas?


Association for European Transport