Experimental Analyses of Step Extent and Contact Buffer in Pedestrian Dynamics

Peter Thompson, Hossein Tavana, Cathy Goulding, Hakan Frantzich, K E Boyce, Daniel Nilsson, Gabriel Larsson, Jesper Friholm, Denise McGrath

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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This study aims to quantify and develop a deeper understanding of the parameters that underpin the development of a new, predictive, microscopic model of pedestrian movement with the potential to accurately reflect the complexity of flow dynamics now and into the future. It presents the results and analyses of two single file experiments designed to quantify the physical space taken up by the extent of a person’s stepping movement (maximum step extent) and the minimum distance between points of inter-person contact (contact buffer) across a range of walking speeds.

The experiments successfully used high-resolution optical motion capture and enhanced video analysis to quantify the dynamic changes in gait and spatial parameters, which were manifested as overlapping steps, and changes to step extent, step length, step frequency, and contact distance. The sum of the step extent and contact buffer, at different speeds, was found to be within a few centimetres of the inter-person distance (headway), leading to the conclusion that these parameters are therefore key components for the derivation of inter-person spacing and, hence, overall crowd movement. The work informs the longer term aim of developing the mathematical model which has the potential to include pedestrian demographics, walking ability and cognitive capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number126927
Number of pages26
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Early online date24 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first-phase post-processing was funded by The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), United States who funded first phase post processing as part of grant: “Determining evacuation capability with biomechanical data” [33]

Funding Information:
The experimental work and initial analysis was funded and supported by Brandforsk (the Swedish Fire Research Board) who kindly funded the experimental work, grant no. 200-161 ; Crowd safety: prototyping for the future. Showing how the science for “pedestrian flow” can keep up with demographic change [32] .

Funding Information:
The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered as potential competing interests: Hakan Frantzich reports financial support was provided by Swedish Fire Research Board (Brandforsk). Hakan Frantzich reports financial support was provided by SFPE.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Pedestrian dynamics model
  • Optical motion capture
  • Detailed video analysis
  • Step extent
  • Contact Buffer
  • Inter-person distance (headway)
  • Contact buffer


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