Academic journal article Science and Children

Reducing the Wobbling of Pedestrian Bridges

Academic journal article Science and Children

Reducing the Wobbling of Pedestrian Bridges

Article excerpt

The dangerous wobbling of pedestrian bridges could be reduced by using biomechanically inspired models of pedestrian response to bridge motion and a mathematical formula to estimate the critical crowd size at which bridge wobbling begins, according to a new study.

Many pedestrian bridges around the world have experienced dramatic vibrations and dangerous wobbling when crowds of pedestrians have tried to cross them, with some bridges falling down. In 2000, the London Millennium Bridge began to sway on its opening day as thousands of pedestrians crossed it and the $32 million bridge had to be closed.

In 2003, the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, U.K., originally designed as a highway bridge, had to be closed when it started wobbling sideways abruptly as a crowd crossed it during the International Balloon Fiesta. In 2014, the Squibb Park Bridge in Brooklyn, New York, bounced from side to side as pedestrians crossed the bridge, and it didn't reopen until early 2017. The Singapore Airport's Changi Mezzanine Bridge is another example of an unstable pedestrian bridge.

Previous studies have found a connection between critical crowd size and bridge wobbling. Engineers determined the London Millennium Bridge would sway if a critical crowd size of 165 pedestrians crossed the bridge at once, but under the critical size, there were no vibrations. In addition, engineers discovered a critical crowd size for the Clifton Suspension Bridge, saying that once the crowd reached the critical size, wobbling became noticeable and dangerous. …

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