Did You Know?
The science behind pedestrian speed
Ever noticed that pedestrians in some cities walk faster than others?
Early research on urban walking speed–which dates back to 1976–suggests a correlation between a city’s walking speed and population. More recent research points in a different direction, however.
In 1989 geographers D. Jim Walmsley and Gareth Lewis suggested that one key factor that may play a role in the relationship between city size and foot speed is the economy. This hypothesis gained further validity in a 1999 study led by psychologist Robert Levine.
By measuring walking speed, work speed, and clock accuracy, Levine’s study confirmed that a country’s G.D.P. and “purchasing power parity” were top social predictors of its walking speed. Levine even wrote a book on the subject, entitled A Geography of Time.
Researchers believe that more recent studies, such as one in 2006 led by Richard Wiseman, may go so far as to reflect and predict rising economies in previously slower paced cities.
For a more detailed overview of the research, check out the Atlantic Cities’ article on the topic.
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