The solution to Georgetown’s sidewalk traffic jams: wider sidewalks - Mobility Lab

If you’re familiar with the Washington, DC neighborhood Georgetown, then you know that M Street – a beautiful, brick-paved avenue – is the worst for walking.

The worst for walking quickly, that is. The sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate the large numbers of people window shopping and hustling to catch buses along the busy thoroughfare.

On narrow sidewalks like M Street’s, one slow walker or a group of friends have the power to reduce overall pedestrian speed, a new study from the University of Sydney found.

The researchers observed people walking on a wide sidewalk and a narrow sidewalk. They found that people using smartphones or walking with others walked more slowly than those walking alone not using phones.

However, on the wide sidewalk, the slow walkers didn’t affect the overall speed of the walkers behind them – these people temporarily increased their speed to pass the slow walkers and then resumed their regular gait.

Yet this was impossible on the narrow sidewalk: since there was no room for passing, the faster walkers had to reduce their speed to stay behind the slow walkers.

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