Analyzing Behaviour to Increase the Safety of Pedestrian Movements



Analyzing Behaviour to Increase the Safety of Pedestrian Movements

Authors

M Maestracci, F Prochasson, D Vanni, City of Paris, FR; C Pene, N Louvet, 6T Research Office, FR

Description

The French government has decided to revise The Highway Code to increase safety for pedestrians crossing roads.

Abstract

"Paris is weighing up the pros and cons of planned measures in the light of Paris-specific features. In so doing, Paris wants to test some measures but has to rate them using a full-proof method-system. This paper puts forward a method-system designed by The Mobility Agency of The City of Paris for studying pedestrian-behaviour when crossing roads. It complements the spatial approach to road accidents by the inclusion of the user?s angle. Its aim is to bring about some change in the Parisian doctrine, according to a behaviour-based assessment process rather than one based on accidents. Understanding accidents and the use of infrastructure guarantee a real assessment of current malfunctions. This method-system is a fourfold approach implemented with the assistance of sociologists, as part of a project partially financed by The French Road Safety Foundation. It seeks primarily to understand how the environment impacts upon the behaviour of pedestrians within urban public space. It attempts to describe the interface between user and public space through an analysis of decision-making in a specifically urban context, an analysis of the criteria applied by the pedestrian when crossing, an observation of pedestrian-behaviour in real-life situations and accident scenarios occurring within the areas studied. The linking of these four approaches, aims to better ?support? pedestrians crossing within an area of public space and should lead to operational measures (tools to back up decisions, feedback), but simultaneously serves as a bridge between research and practitioner know-how.
This study was carried out on four separate sites. Pedestrians were interviewed just after using a pedestrian crossing or not. The comparative analysis of places shows differences in responses to a questionnaire according to the site and to the conditions under which they crossed (red or green pedestrian crossing light, crossing outwith the pedestrian crossing, etc.).
Setting the neutral description of places alongside the uses of these same places and points of view of the people within them are used to identify the necessary levers for optimising the safety of different users within public spaces. The ways in which people move according to time and space are particularly important.
Key results from this study, show, among others, that vehicles going across pedestrian crossings, notice less one located at the exit of an intersection, than one located at the entrance of the intersection. This result can be compared to different studies by The City of Paris, which indicate that most accidents involving at least one pedestrian, occur on pedestrian crossings located at the exit of the intersection. Pedestrians who cross outwith pedestrian crossings are aware of the risk taken. Indeed, they report that the crossing is more difficult and more dangerous than crossing on a pedestrian crossing, and they tend to run rather than walk across. However, they choose to cross when vehicles are stopped, and most often in front of those at the traffic lights. Pedestrians are more in a hurry in the morning but most accidents occur at the end of the afternoon. When a pedestrian is looking out for public transport, he will take more risks out of fear of ?missing the bus?. This phenomenon has already been shown in other studies on pedestrian accidents around subway stations with only one entrance or when a tram is approaching. Behaviour observed (correct use of traffic and pedestrian light signals, pedestrian crossings, etc.) is a reflection of how accidents really happen. Lack of attention and processing of information on the pedestrians? part were found both in the accidents analysed and in the questionnaire. The compromise between ""time-saving"" and ""safety"" weighs rather more in favour of ?time-saving?.
The results of observing behaviour at pedestrian crossings show differences dependent on the type of infrastructure and traffic conditions. Indeed, certain conditions are unfavourable to the correct use of pedestrian signals, such as the reduced width of crossings, the lightness of traffic, or the intervals between two vehicle flows, and thereby contributing to the genesis of unsafe pedestrian-movement. It is therefore important to further consider recommendations for improving the usability of public space, taking into account, among others, legibility and finding one?s way, unconscious risk taking, and especially user-needs. Public space must then be redesigned and geared around the pedestrian."

Publisher

Association for European Transport