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Directional Pedestrian Flow

Kirai (a geek in Japan) notes that there are special uni-directional pedestrian schemes in Tokyo.

In Shinjuku there are even some sidewalks with rules concerning pedestrian traffic. For example, this sign is indicating that on the right lane from 9 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon it is a one way lane.

But on the left lane the direction changes depending on the time. These “extreme” rules are needed only in districts like Shinjuku where more than three million people commute by everyday.

I wonder if this explicitly signed scheme happens anywhere outside of Japan?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2009 at 1:39 pm and is filed under Cities, Congestion, Pedestrians, Traffic Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Directional Pedestrian Flow”

  1. Josh R Says:

    I can’t think of anyplace outside Japan that would 1, Have that many pedestrians moving around at the same time. & 2. Have such an ingrained cultural bent toward following the rules that everybody would obey the signs.

    You could put all the signs you want in cities like Bangkok and Delhi, but you’d just be wasting your time.

  2. Yokota Fritz Says:

    Josh has a good point about the law abiding nature of Japanese society. I’m pretty amazed there’s a thriving fixie/hipster subculture in Japan who are almost as bad as American urban riders at blowing through stop signs.

  3. ls Says:

    In Birmingham England there is a pedestrian ramp into a shopping centre with markings, signs and loudspeakers directing pedestrians to keep left. Many people ignore it but it does seem to work better when it is very crowded.

    Photo –> http://www.flickr.com/photos/sibadd/3333688893/ (man being arrested is probably not for walking on wrong side but possibly for wearing trousers too low)

    Time lapse –>
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidellins/3403820823/ (2nd scene)

  4. Mike Spack Says:

    In Minneapolis, some of the trails around our beautiful chain of lakes have trails that split bicycles from pedestrians with signs and lane markings. Some of the lanes have directional arrows in them. They aren’t allows obeyed, but they help keep the crowds moving on a nice summer Saturday afternoon. The system isn’t as overt as the Japanese system and it is trails versus sidewalks, but it is something.

  5. wes kirkman Says:

    @Josh
    *cough* http://www.seattlepi.com/photos/photo.asp?PhotoID=202575 *cough*

    In all seriousness, I think the signs probably don’t stop all pedestrians but probably warn those unfamiliar peds that this is not the street to be walking down counter to traffic flow patterns. Can you imagine walking against a flow of 3 million pedestrians? I think even your most unabashed anarchist would follow the rules in this case.

  6. Richard Green Says:

    I’d take some slight issue to the characterisation of the rule abidingness in Japan, if only to point out that the rules abided too are generally those socially enforced rather than formally enforced. For instance, in traffic, rules that are merely formal without social expectations, like speed limits or the true spirit of one-way streets are very very cavalierly adhered to.

    On a similar note to the topic, I’ve noticed in a 400 metre or some walkway under central station in Sydney, there is widespread adherence to a keep to the left rule when there is alot of foot traffic, but there are no signs to this effect. I’m always wondering if it is truely engrained in people from the road or whether a few early walkers simply defaulted to passing each other on the left, which resulted in a traffic segregation that simply made it unpractical for following walkers to disobey the emergent convention. Path dependence.

  7. Matt Says:

    In most subways etc in London, especially ones leading to or around stations, there are “Keep left” or “Keep right” signs (it’s not always the same side, sticking to the side they suggest will probably mean you’re on the same side as the exit or whatever). And if you don’t want 50 people scowling at you you’d best stand on the right on an escalator ;-) .

  8. Dottie Says:

    Interesting. I don’t see this working in Chicago. Too many tourists, for one, who barely know which direction they’re going in the first place. Plus, all the surly residents such as myself would consider it too close to sheep herding :)

    I got a few scowls in London when walking on the wrong side in the tube. I never could figure out if I was supposed to walk on the right like in the States or on the left like on their roads. Good to know, Matt, that the side changes depending on the area and that I am not simply a slow learner.

  9. Brigham Says:

    Where there is no separate footway, pedestrians walk on the RIGHT on British roads, in order to face oncoming traffic. Keeping to the right on the London tube is usually credited to the involvement of Charles Tyson Yerkes!

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