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Concept: Pedestrian


Mobile phone texting is a common daily occurrence with a paucity of research examining corresponding gait characteristics. To date, most studies have participants walk in a straight line vs. overcoming barriers and obstacles that occur during regular walking. The aim of our study is to examine the effect of mobile phone texting during periods of cognitive distraction while walking and negotiating barriers synonymous with pedestrian traffic.

Concepts: Mobile phone, Walking, Locomotion, Text messaging, Pedestrian, Walkability, Motorola, Racewalking


OBJECTIVES: The objective of the present work was to study the impact of technological and social distraction on cautionary behaviours and crossing times in pedestrians. METHODS: Pedestrians were observed at 20 high-risk intersections during 1 of 3 randomly assigned time windows in 2012. Observers recorded demographic and behavioural information, including use of a mobile device (talking on the phone, text messaging, or listening to music). We examined the association between distraction and crossing behaviours, adjusting for age and gender. All multivariate analyses were conducted with random effect logistic regression (binary outcomes) and random effect linear regression (continuous outcomes), accounting for clustering by site. RESULTS: Observers recorded crossing behaviours for 1102 pedestrians. Nearly one-third (29.8%) of all pedestrians performed a distracting activity while crossing. Distractions included listening to music (11.2%), text messaging (7.3%) and using a handheld phone (6.2%). Text messaging, mobile phone use and talking with a companion increased crossing time. Texting pedestrians took 1.87 additional seconds (18.0%) to cross the average intersection (3.4 lanes), compared to undistracted pedestrians. Texting pedestrians were 3.9 times more likely than undistracted pedestrians to display at least 1 unsafe crossing behaviour (disobeying the lights, crossing mid-intersection, or failing to look both ways). Pedestrians listening to music walked more than half a second (0.54) faster across the average intersection than undistracted pedestrians. CONCLUSIONS: Distracting activity is common among pedestrians, even while crossing intersections. Technological and social distractions increase crossing times, with text messaging associated with the highest risk. Our findings suggest the need for intervention studies to reduce risk of pedestrian injury.

Concepts: Observation, Behavior, Human behavior, Mobile phone, Text messaging, Pedestrian, Distraction, Instant messaging


Pedestrians regularly engage with their mobile phone whilst walking. The current study investigated how mobile phone use affects where people look (visual search behaviour) and how they negotiate a floor based hazard placed along the walking path. Whilst wearing a mobile eye tracker and motion analysis sensors, participants walked up to and negotiated a surface height change whilst writing a text, reading a text, talking on the phone, or without a phone. Differences in gait and visual search behaviour were found when using a mobile phone compared to when not using a phone. Using a phone resulted in looking less frequently and for less time at the surface height change, which led to adaptations in gait by negotiating it in a manner consistent with adopting an increasingly cautious stepping strategy. When using a mobile phone, writing a text whilst walking resulted in the greatest adaptions in gait and visual search behaviour compared to reading a text and talking on a mobile phone. Findings indicate that mobile phone users were able to adapt their visual search behaviour and gait to incorporate mobile phone use in a safe manner when negotiating floor based obstacles.

Concepts: Mobile phone, Walking, Adaptation, Locomotion, Automobile, Pedestrian, Walkability, Sustainable transport


There are concerns about the safety of texting while walking. Although evidence of negative effects of mobile phone use on gait is scarce, cognitive distraction, altered mechanical demands, and the reduced visual field associated with texting are likely to have an impact. In 26 healthy individuals we examined the effect of mobile phone use on gait. Individuals walked at a comfortable pace in a straight line over a distance of ∼8.5 m while; 1) walking without the use of a phone, 2) reading text on a mobile phone, or 3) typing text on a mobile phone. Gait performance was evaluated using a three-dimensional movement analysis system. In comparison with normal waking, when participants read or wrote text messages they walked with: greater absolute lateral foot position from one stride to the next; slower speed; greater rotation range of motion (ROM) of the head with respect to global space; the head held in a flexed position; more in-phase motion of the thorax and head in all planes, less motion between thorax and head (neck ROM); and more tightly organized coordination in lateral flexion and rotation directions. While writing text, participants walked slower, deviated more from a straight line and used less neck ROM than reading text. Although the arms and head moved with the thorax to reduce relative motion of the phone and facilitate reading and texting, movement of the head in global space increased and this could negatively impact the balance system. Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, modify gait performance. Texting or reading on a mobile phone may pose an additional risk to safety for pedestrians navigating obstacles or crossing the road.

Concepts: Mobile phone, Walking, Locomotion, Text messaging, Pedestrian, SMS, Instant messaging, Equilibrioception


The design of suburban communities encourages car dependency and discourages walking, characteristics that have been implicated in the rise of obesity. Walkability measures have been developed to capture these features of urban built environments. Our objective was to examine the individual and combined associations of residential density and the presence of walkable destinations, two of the most commonly used and potentially modifiable components of walkability measures, with transportation, overweight, obesity, and diabetes. We examined associations between a previously published walkability measure and transportation behaviors and health outcomes in Toronto, Canada, a city of 2.6 million people in 2011. Data sources included the Canada census, a transportation survey, a national health survey and a validated administrative diabetes database. We depicted interactions between residential density and the availability of walkable destinations graphically and examined them statistically using general linear modeling. Individuals living in more walkable areas were more than twice as likely to walk, bicycle or use public transit and were significantly less likely to drive or own a vehicle compared with those living in less walkable areas. Individuals in less walkable areas were up to one-third more likely to be obese or to have diabetes. Residential density and the availability of walkable destinations were each significantly associated with transportation and health outcomes. The combination of high levels of both measures was associated with the highest levels of walking or bicycling (p<0.0001) and public transit use (p<0.0026) and the lowest levels of automobile trips (p<0.0001), and diabetes prevalence (p<0.0001). We conclude that both residential density and the availability of walkable destinations are good measures of urban walkability and can be recommended for use by policy-makers, planners and public health officials. In our setting, the combination of both factors provided additional explanatory power.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Childhood obesity, Walking, Automobile, Pedestrian, Sustainable transport, Urban design


Physical activity confers considerable health benefits, but only half of U.S. adults report participating in levels of aerobic physical activity consistent with guidelines (1,2). Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities identified walking as an important public health strategy to increase physical activity levels (3). A previous report showed that the self-reported prevalence of walking for transportation or leisure increased by 6 percentage points from 2005 to 2010 (4), but it is unknown whether this increase has been sustained. CDC analyzed National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2005 (26,551 respondents), 2010 (23,313), and 2015 (28,877) to evaluate trends in the age-adjusted prevalence of self-reported walking among adults aged ≥18 years. The prevalence of walking increased steadily among women, from 57.3% in 2005, to 62.5% in 2010, and to 65.1% in 2015 (significant linear trend). Among men, a significant linear increase in reported walking was observed, from 54.3% in 2005, to 61.8% in 2010, and to 62.8% in 2015, although the increase stalled between 2010 and 2015 (significant linear and quadratic trends). Community design policies and practices that encourage pedestrian activity and programs tailored to the needs of specific population subgroups remain important strategies for promoting walking (3).

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Health, Epidemiology, Trend, Walking, Pedestrian, Walkability


Objectives. We assessed changes in transit-associated walking in the United States from 2001 to 2009 and documented their importance to public health. Methods. We examined transit walk times using the National Household Travel Survey, a telephone survey administered by the US Department of Transportation to examine travel behavior in the United States. Results. People are more likely to transit walk if they are from lower income households, are non-White, and live in large urban areas with access to rail systems. Transit walkers in large urban areas with a rail system were 72% more likely to transit walk 30 minutes or more per day than were those without a rail system. From 2001 to 2009, the estimated number of transit walkers rose from 7.5 million to 9.6 million (a 28% increase); those whose transit-associated walking time was 30 minutes or more increased from approximately 2.6 million to 3.4 million (a 31% increase). Conclusions. Transit walking contributes to meeting physical activity recommendations. Study results may contribute to transportation-related health impact assessment studies evaluating the impact of proposed transit systems on physical activity, potentially influencing transportation planning decisions. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print January 17, 2013: e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300912).

Concepts: United States, Urban area, Transport, Pedestrian, Sustainable transport, Public transport, Rail transport, Transportation planning


Traffic fatalities and injuries constitute a major global public health problem and the United States has fallen behind other developed countries in traffic safety. Yet, New York City stands out as a traffic safety model in the nation with its low fatality rate and its significant reductions in various types of crashes. This study develops a safety framework that considers three principal axes that affect crashes: why, who, and where. While “why” concerns exposure, conflict, and speed, “who” and “where” consider the unique characteristics of the road users and the surrounding built environment. Grounded in this safety framework, the effectiveness of 13 safety countermeasures and street designs installed in New York City between 1990 and 2008 are evaluated using a two group pretest-posttest design. The potential regression-to-the-mean problem is addressed by applying the ANCOVA regression approach. The results show that signal related countermeasures that are designed to reduce conflicts: split phase timing, signal installations, all pedestrian phase, and increasing pedestrian crossing time, reduce crashes. Traffic calming measures, including road diets, are also found to have significant safety benefits. Countermeasures that are designed to alert drivers' cognitive attention, such as high visibility crosswalks and posted speed limit reduction signs, appear to have a lesser effect. The various safety countermeasures implemented in New York City considered all three important dimensions in the safety framework: why, who, and where. The study suggests these strategies are likely to contribute to the large reductions in crashes in New York City. We also demonstrate that a rigorous quasi-experimental design can be readily deployed in transportation safety evaluation studies.

Concepts: United States, United Kingdom, New York City, Road, Road transport, Pedestrian, Traffic calming, Pedestrian crossing


Patients with peripheral field loss complain of colliding with other pedestrians in open-space environments such as shopping malls. Field expansion devices (e.g., prisms) can create artificial peripheral islands of vision. We investigated the visual angle at which these islands can be most effective for avoiding pedestrian collisions, by modeling the collision risk density as a function of bearing angle of pedestrians relative to the patient. Pedestrians at all possible locations were assumed to be moving in all directions with equal probability within a reasonable range of walking speeds. The risk density was found to be highly anisotropic. It peaked at ≈45° eccentricity. Increasing pedestrian speed range shifted the risk to higher eccentricities. The risk density is independent of time to collision. The model results were compared to the binocular residual peripheral island locations of 42 patients with forms of retinitis pigmentosa. The natural residual island prevalence also peaked nasally at about 45° but temporally at about 75°. This asymmetry resulted in a complementary coverage of the binocular field of view. Natural residual binocular island eccentricities seem well matched to the collision-risk density function, optimizing detection of other walking pedestrians (nasally) and of faster hazards (temporally). Field expansion prism devices will be most effective if they can create artificial peripheral islands at about 45° eccentricities. The collision risk and residual island findings raise interesting questions about normal visual development.

Concepts: Vision, Retinitis pigmentosa, Introductory physics, Binocular vision, Pedestrian, Field of view, Collision, Collision detection


Introduction The ‘Safety in Numbers’ (SiN) phenomenon refers to a decline of injury risk per time or distance exposed as use of a mode increases. It has been demonstrated for cycling using cross-sectional data, but little evidence exists as to whether the effect applies longitudinally -that is, whether changes in cycling levels correlate with changes in per-cyclist injury risks.Methods This paper examines cross-sectional and longitudinal SiN effects in 202 local authorities in Britain, using commuting data from 1991, 2001 and 2011 censuses plus police -recorded data on ‘killed and seriously injured’ (KSI) road traffic injuries. We modelled a log-linear relationship between number of injuries and number of cycle commuters. Second, we conducted longitudinal analysis to examine whether local authorities where commuter cycling increased became safer (and vice versa).Results The paper finds a cross-sectional SiN effect exists in the 1991, 2001 and 2011 censuses. The longitudinal analysis also found a SiN effect, that is, places where cycling increased were more likely to become safer than places where it had declined. Finally, these longitudinal results are placed in the context of changes in pedestrian, cyclist and motorist safety. While between 1991 and 2001 all modes saw declines in KSI risk (37% for pedestrians, 36% for cyclists and 27% for motor vehicle users), between 2001 and 2011 pedestrians and motorists saw even more substantial declines (41% and 49%), while risk for cyclists increased by 4%.Conclusion The SiN mechanism does seem to operate longitudinally as well as cross-sectionally. However, at a national level between 2001-11 it co-existed with an increase in cyclist injury risk both in absolute terms and in relation to other modes.

Concepts: Injury, Physical trauma, Traffic, Driving, Automobile, Pedestrian, Bicycle, Commuting