Best practice walking environments require a safe walking space. Poor design and low maintenance of walking surfaces and roadside furniture can reduce safety, walking ambience, and cause inefficient walking speeds. In New Zealand around 700 pedestrians are admitted to hospital each year due to slips, trips and stumbles in the road environment, with many more unreported accidents, yet little is known regarding the specific physical characteristics that foster pedestrian accidents.
In this exploratory study a sample of 491 pedestrians that were involved in non-motor-vehicle-related accidents on or immediately beside the road were interviewed, with a particular focus on the infrastructure that contributed to the accident. Elevated surfaces (kerbs or steps), poor artificial lighting, and maintenance (including litter, overgrowth and degraded surfaces) are critical issues in ensuring a safe pedestrian environment.
It is suggested that pedestrian errors occur when the design and level of service of the space does not align with pedestrian expectations. The conceptual model of self-explaining roads, where the properties of the space naturally elicit safe user behaviour and meet user expectations (such as environmental consistency), should be extended to encompass self-explaining footpaths.
Jared has a background in human factors and applied social psychology, with ten years experience examining the interaction of individuals with their environment. He has fostered innovative methods to measure human interaction in transport and urban spaces, taking into account the diverse needs of the users of these shared spaces.