2001 volume 28(3) pages 361 – 383
doi:10.1068/b2697

Cite as:
Helbing D, Molnár P, Farkas I J, Bolay K, 2001, "Self-organizing pedestrian movement" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 28(3) 361 – 383

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Self-organizing pedestrian movement

Dirk Helbing, Péter Molnár, Illés J Farkas, Kai Bolay

Received 16 September 1999; in revised form 10 May 2000

Abstract. Although pedestrians have individual preferences, aims, and destinations, the dynamics of pedestrian crowds is surprisingly predictable. Pedestrians can move freely only at small pedestrian densities. Otherwise their motion is affected by repulsive interactions with other pedestrians, giving rise to self-organization phenomena. Examples of the resulting patterns of motion are separate lanes of uniform walking direction in crowds of oppositely moving pedestrians or oscillations of the passing direction at bottlenecks. If pedestrians leave footprints on deformable ground (for example, in green spaces such as public parks) this additionally causes attractive interactions which are mediated by modifications of their environment. In such cases, systems of pedestrian trails will evolve over time. The corresponding computer simulations are a valuable tool for developing optimized pedestrian facilities and way systems.

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