Together with Stefan van der Spek at TU Delft, I have assisted and conducted various studies of pedestrian routing using GPS measurement devices.
GPS allowed us to accurately measure not only the intensity of pedestrian traffic, but also the route choice of pedestrians and the speeds at which they traveled. This provides us with a wealth of information on how pedestrians inhabit and use their urban environments.
As part of the EU Interreg IIIb funded research on pedestrian routing, wayfinding and behavior in European cities, the TU Delft team has tracked pedestrians as they walked through city centers of Norwich (UK), Rouen (France) and Koblenz (Germany). Devices were handed to participants in return for their parking ticket. The participants would then continue their walk through the city center, and return the device and receive free parking. This system proved effective: over the course of a week hundreds of ‘GPS tracks’ were recorded. The results have provided the city council of Norwich with valuable insights into the pedestrian routing of their city center, helping them to focus their public space investments.
A similar study was commissioned by the Municipality of Rotterdam to track where and to what extent residents of new high-rise developments used the city center. The results were used to inform urban policy on improving the location and design of high-rise development. Similarly, the combination of pedestrian measurements and evaluations of public spaces was used by the Municipality of Delft to guide their improvements in public space. Knowing where people are and what they think of a public space is tremendously powerful in prioritizing urban investment.
The results of the GPS studies have been published in ‘Street Level Desires, discovering the city on foot’ in 2007, Naar een levendige binnenstad - loopstromen van de Rotterdamse Hoogbouwbewoner in 2011, and Evidence-based design: Satellite positioning studies of city centre user groups in the Journal of Urban Design and Planning in 2013.
GPS tracks of pedestrians in Norwich city centre.
Tracks and evaluation of Rotterdam high-rise residents.