Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Pedestrian Modelling

The Resource for Urban Design Information (RUDI) held a massive Transport Modelling conference at Chelsea Stadium in June, with which there was a session on Pedestrian Modelling.  Our group Living Streets Kings Cross was kindly invited to participate. With our treasurer Lisa T, I attended as chair, and fortunately by bicycle, avoiding the transport chaos on the day. We saw and heard speakers from various agencies involved in this area, including Buchanan's, Atkins, Urban Initiatives, and some interesting academic contributions.

Graham Long from Buchanan's showed some of the techniques of studying pedestrian movement and spatial behaviour, in some ways highlighting the widespread problem of adapting the study of vehicular transport to that of pedestrians  

The Intelligent Space unit at Atkins showcased the now famous adaptation of Oxford Circus (movie) as previously shown in our pages, lower right. (here)

Some software, modes of studying pedestrians and methodologies were introduced by Urban Initatives, apparently a splinter consultancy of Space Syntax, and they aimed to show 'how places work at a range of scales, assessing urban movement and the mix of uses.  Primarily this was aimed at development viability appraisal, which is where the consultancy money is earned.  
Alison Chisholm from Oxford showed a more end-user friendly study of network analysis applied to pedestrian and bicycle journeys, and another academic presenting Bath Uni's "Cityware" opened up the discussion looking at visualisation techniques using urban Bluetooth data.

In all there were some useful ideas, and it was a valuable introduction to the pedestrian modelling discipline. It also clearly demonstrated, I think, why local authorities and community groups are sometimes bamboozled and seduced by consultants - in some cases they are using complicated technology to consider what could make our streets safer and more enjoyable places to live and work.

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