Analysis of Walking Facility Performance Guidelines for Individuals with Disabilities
PI: Keith Christensen and Anthony Chen (Utah State University)
Walking facilities are important infrastructure in a community’s transportation systems. It is imperative to design and evaluate the effectiveness of these facilities to meet the walking needs of diverse pedestrian groups, including individuals with disabilities who represent a significant number of the population.
The Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) defines walking facility performance using a qualitative measure describing operational conditions, or level of service (LOS). However, pedestrian LOS thresholds do not account for bi-directional flows, pedestrian/environment spacing, or heterogeneous pedestrian characteristics as there is little research on diverse pedestrians’ walking behavior. As a result, how closely pedestrian LOS thresholds correspond to actual conditions have been shown to be inaccurate. The purpose of this study is to compare individuals with disabilities’ perceptions of quality of service and observed walking behavior with existing walking facility guidelines. The results will improve the guidelines used to assess walking facility performance, ultimately improving the design of walking facilities for heterogeneous populations which include individuals with disabilities.
The results suggest that there are differences between perceptions of individuals without and with disabilities and these differences are more visible in high density levels (i.e., LOS E and F). Also, it was found that pedestrian LOS perception thresholds are lower than HCM LOS implying that the current thresholds provided in HCM guideline don’t follow pedestrian perceptions and using them may lead to inappropriate design plans. The findings in this study are expected to enhance design of walking environments. Designers can test and evaluate their design plans using the findings in this research to determine how well their design can meet the needs of different users and they can change their plan while changes are possible.