A universal function for capacity of bidirectional pedestrian streams: Filling the gaps in the literature.

Research paper by Claudio C Feliciani, Hisashi H Murakami, Katsuhiro K Nishinari

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: PloS one


In this work, we investigate properties of bidirectional pedestrian streams by studying different experimental datasets from multiple authors. Through the comparison of a scenario where lanes naturally form with two others where lane formation is either obstructed or facilitated, we show the relationship of different pedestrian quantities in regard to the flow ratio (or directional split). On this scope, two measures to account for the degree of congestion and self-organization are introduced. The analysis of the results reveals that the balanced case (where flow is almost equal in both directions) has very peculiar properties which depends on the existence or not of organized lanes and their stability. While the balanced case generally shows the highest level of congestion, this property can quickly change after lanes are formed and when they remain stable. An in-depth investigation revealed that capacity in bidirectional streams is characterized by a dual nature: conflicts with the counter flow and self-organization in lanes. Both aspects have been described using a mathematical model which allowed to define a function for capacity in relation with flow ratio and environmental/cognitive aspects. The expression for capacity proposed in our work agrees with several studies from the literature, eventually allowing to understand the differences among them. We believe our function for capacity enables a more universal treatment of bidirectional streams compared to previous definitions, since it allows to account for steady and non-steady state conditions which represent important mechanisms in their dynamics. The framework introduced here may also help measuring the influence of environmental/cognitive changes in relation with the capacity of bidirectional pedestrian streams.