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For many who travel by foot, time rather then distance is the important 'willingness to walk' determinate.  Additionally one's 'willingness to walk'  is also affected by how often their walking pace is interrupted.   Time spent waiting for a traffic signal to change is more difficult to handle then the same time spent in motion.  (1)




Neighborhood connector paths and trails

Short connector paths provide typically low cost resources that allow walkers and those on bikes to find more direct routes and likely safer routes to their destination


Certain Pedestrian Walk Signals Implementations

Pedestrian Walk Signals that automatically [without call button] signal walk cycle when doing so will have no impact on traffic flow.

When triggered by 'call button', activate walk signal as soon as possible in cycle.  [some miss the first opportunity to change if call button is pressed to close to normal light transition cycle]

Show full count-down walk time.  Some implementations only begin count-down cycle near end of cycle.  Full count-down time allow those approaching from a distance to better adjust pace to catch cycle. 

In addition to remaining walk time, consider providing remaining wait time


Introduce UVC code similar to Virginia's 46.2-923. How and where pedestrians cross highways.

When crossing highways, pedestrians shall not carelessly or maliciously interfere with the orderly passage of vehicles. They shall cross, wherever possible, only at intersections or marked crosswalks. Where intersections contain no marked crosswalks, pedestrians shall not be guilty of negligence as a matter of law for crossing at any such intersection or between intersections when crossing by the most direct route



Where legal (see above) and where a safe sight lines exist,  continuous medians allow pedestrians to keep moving and and to get there by the most direct route.  

Safe Refuge

Where medians are not feasible, provide frequent pedestrian refuge islands.

Bus Transit Schedules

People who walk to bus stops need to know the bus will not depart early. 

Rail Transit Stations

Where arrival/departure times are variable, provide automated signs at appropriate locations outside the station so those walking to the station can adjust their pace accordingly.  Without them people rush when there is no hope of catching current train 



Comments from Charles Carmalt  Transportation Planner Lawrenceville, NJ 

Back in distance time -- the 1970s -- Jeff Zupan and Boris Pushkarev published a series of three books for the Regional Plan Association that quantified lots of the information regarding how people in urban environments choose to travel and what affects travel choices. The books are:


Boris S Pushkarev with Jeffrey M Zupan, Urban Space for Pedestrians, MIT Press, 1975. 


Boris S Pushkarev and Jeffrey M Zupan, Public Transportation and Land Use Policy, Indiana University Press, 1977. 


Boris S Pushkarev with Jeffrey M Zupan and Robert S Cumella, Urban Rail in America, Indiana University Press, 1982. 

The willingness to walk somewhere falls off drastically at about half a mile, although some people can be counted to walk up to two miles for all sorts of purposes (they know about me)

One's willingness to walk is shaped by what alternatives are available, what the destination is and who the person is. In the 1970s, most people were willing to walk at least 1/3 of a mile (1,760 feet) to a rapid transit or commuter rail station, but few people would walk over 1000 feet to a local transit bus stop.

People place different value on time -- for transit planning, time spent transferring between lines is considered to be at least three times more onerous than time traveling in a vehicle or even stopped in a vehicle. (Drivers are the same -- time stopped at a traffic light takes much longer to pass than time traveling.) From this one can assume that a pedestrian would find time waiting at a traffic light more annoying than time walking. 

The importance of waiting time is in fact so great that it has become the basis for determining level of service at intersections for motor vehicles. I like to explain to people that when you are driving on a side street at 2 in the morning and you just miss the signal activation period at an intersection with an arterial highway where the cycle length is 90 seconds or more, you will have to wait at least 90 seconds to start moving. You may not see another vehicle during that entire period -- the volume to capacity ratio is probably on the order 0.02 -- but you have experienced Level of Service F. Furthermore, you will be filled with annoyance, if you don't fall asleep first. 

I have long thought it would be interesting to conduct similar studies to determine how long in fact pedestrians are willing to wait at a red light before the start to cross -- my personal observation is that pedestrians have a tolerance for waiting at a signal of about 30 seconds. Wait longer than that, especially if there are no cars on the roadway, and people will walk against the light.

Another important thing to be aware of from the Zupan/Pushkarev research. People will actually travel longer distances and for longer times in order to pass through a more enjoyable environment. The team discovered that people would travel up to 10 minutes longer on subway trips in order to make a transfer at a station that had been aesthetically designed with public artwork, good lighting and benches (I think -- actually, I can't remember what the amenities were other than public art) From this I learned that you can make people want to choose to walk a reasonable distance if you make the walk attractive and if you make it appear to be the most reasonable choice. (Conversely, when you place a large parking lot in front of a retail store, most people will choose to drive there).  

Pedestrians will not follow a path that seems to take them out of their way or forces them to walk a longer distance. However, people are willing walk longer distances, even circuitous routes, if they believe it is the most efficient way to get someplace. Retailers play tricks on shoppers all the time to get them to do just that.

So -- based on Z/P's research and my observations, I'd say that time is much more important than distance in affecting a person's willingness to walk, and the perception of time and the quality of the environment are much more important than actual time.

Source: Email to America Walks from Charles Carmalt  Transportation Planner Lawrenceville, NJ 
 Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 12:17 AM   Subject: Re: time vs distance - people willingness to walk



Metroped support for the use of medians by pedestrians


At Safe Crossings Campaign public forums, attendee's repeatedly voiced their preference to cross at many non-signalized locations along a busy highway -- U.S. Route #1 corridor in Fairfax County VA. --  to visit, shop, catch a bus, go to the Post Office or the Governmental Center.  These crossings were under year round weather conditions which included dark rainy nights.  They consistently stressed their desire to have SC support their need to take the shortest path to get to where they were walking.  

We learned most were not willing to walk more then a short distance out of their way to get to a painted signalized crosswalks.  Interestingly some were actually willing to walk out of their way to cross away from an intersection to avoid turning cars.   For this reason Metroped strongly supports the recommendation of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking -- via their Walkable Communities Workshops -- for Crosswalks offset or midway between Intersections

Below is the localized recommendation for the highway that was the subject of the public forums