The Brits have created a machine for walkers — a big suspended platform that can simulate a range of pedestrian environments and situations in order to test how people respond to them. It’s called PAMELA (Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory). The research will enable cities to design better pedestrian infrastructure.
One example of the need for this kind of research is the number of injuries pedestrians suffer from falls (a particularly serious problem for seniors). A U.S Federal Highway Administration study found that 64% of emergency room admissions for pedestrians were the result of falls of one kind or another, rather than collisions with motor vehicles. Many of these falls are preventable with good infrastructure maintenance (and the Toronto Pedestrian Committee cited this study in a motion at its September meeting calling on the city to improve the maintenance of sidewalks).The machine has already revealed interesting insights, such as that people get stressed if a bus stops some distance from the sidewalk and they have to step onto the road before they can board.
photo from Univeristy of London