A theoretical model of the role of information processing in pedestrian movement was developed to account for accidents on stairways. The model posited two very subtle atributes of routine movement behavior which could account for certain kinds of accidents involving single individuals and queuing problems involving large crowds. The first of these was the need to scrutinize and analyze the condition of a stairway before beginning to descent or ascend. The second was the tendency to redirect one's visual attention whenever the visual surroundings are abruptly altered--such as the sudden exposure of new spatial stimulation where a narrow corridor intersects an expansive lobby. These two characteristics of pedestrian movement were hypothesized to serve two functions. The first was a precautionary function related to the high degree of uncertainty about the state of a stair or room prior to negotiating or entering it. The second was in information gathering function related to a need to reduce uncertainty in order to neogtiate a stair or enter a room with assurance. According to this model the pedestrian would exhibit some kind of "testing" procedure as he made the transition from level movement to stair movement or from a visually restricted setting to a much larger or more elaborate one. Since both of these hypotheses deal with very subtle variations of highly routinized behavior patterns it was felt that experimental setting within the laboratory would be too impoverished to incorporated the degree to which non-reactivity is an issue in the study of processes and to contrived to avoid alterations in the subjects' behavior without using deceptive masking procedures. Therefore, it was decided that the behavior in question should be studied in natural settings using as non-reactive a technique as possible. Two separate research programs were involved. The first was concerned with accidents and missteps on stairs in complex public settings. The second was concerned with crowd movement and queuing at the Montreal Olympics. In both studies unobstrusive film an videotape records of movement on stairs and through other components of pedestrian circulation systems were obtained. In addition, physical trace measures were obtained at the Olympics. The use of these non-reactive measures in the analysis of stair safety and crowd flow will be discussed in detail. The analysis of head and foot movements which demonstrate a significant difference in "testing" between those who do and those who do not have accidents or missteps on stairs; the confirmation of certain predicated accident and misstep locations on flights of stairs having highly irregular riser and tread dimensions; and data on the tendency to hesitate and divert one's attention toward compelling views that are encountered abruptly will be emphasized. In addition, the use of non-reactive measures to establish incident rates for missteps, falls, or other movement discontinuities and procedures for determining the degree to which non-reactivity is an issue in the study of certain highly routinized behavior patterns will also be discussed.

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 117-121

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00178230
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Safety Council Safety Research Info Serv
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Proceeding
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 19 1978 12:00AM