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Pedestrians waiting at a pedestrian crossing in Mysore, India Pedestrians waiting at crossing, Mysore.jpg
Pedestrians waiting at a pedestrian crossing in Mysore, India
Pedestrians in New York City jay walk during the evening rush hour in 1973. COMMUTERS HEAD FOR HOME AT RUSH HOUR NEAR THE DOCKS OF THE STATEN ISLAND FERRIES IN BATTERY PARK, LOWER MANHATTAN.... - NARA - 549906.tif
Pedestrians in New York City jay walk during the evening rush hour in 1973.
A pedestrian at the intersection of Alinga Street and Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, Australia. Pedestrian.Alinga.St.Northourne.Ave.Canberra.Australia.jpg
A pedestrian at the intersection of Alinga Street and Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, Australia.
A sign in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, directing pedestrians to an overpass for safe crossing. Pedestre.JPG
A sign in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, directing pedestrians to an overpass for safe crossing.

A pedestrian is a person travelling on foot, whether walking or running. In modern times, the term usually refers to someone walking on a road or pavement, but this was not the case historically.[ citation needed ]


The meaning of pedestrian is displayed with the morphemes ped- ('foot') and -ian ('characteristic of'). [1] This word is derived from the Latin term pedester ('going on foot') and was first used (in English language) during the 18th century. [2] It was originally used, and can still be used today, as an adjective meaning plain or dull. [3] However, in this article it takes on its noun form and refers to someone who walks.

The word pedestrian may have been used in middle French in the Recueil des Croniques et Anchiennes Istories de la Grant Bretaigne, à présent nommé Engleterre. [4]

In California the definition of a pedestrian has been broadened to include anyone on any human powered vehicle that is not a bicycle, as well as people operating self-propelled wheelchairs by reason of physical disability. [5] In some communities, those travelling using tiny wheels such as roller skates, skateboards, and scooters, as well as wheelchair users [6] are also included as pedestrians.


Walking has always been the primary means of human locomotion. The first humans to migrate from Africa, about 60,000 years ago, walked. [7] They walked along the coast of India to reach Australia. They walked across Asia to reach the Americas, and from Central Asia into Europe.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, pedestrianism (walking) was a popular spectator sport just as equestrianism still is in places such as the United Kingdom and the United States. One of the most famous pedestrians of that period was Captain Robert Barclay Allardice, known as "The Celebrated Pedestrian", of Stonehaven in Scotland. His most impressive feat was to walk 1 mile (1.6 km) every hour for 1000 hours, which he achieved between 1 June and 12 July 1809. This feat captured many people's imagination, and around 10,000 people came to watch over the course of the event. During the rest of the 19th century, many people tried to repeat this feat, including Ada Anderson who developed it further and walked a half-mile (800 m) each quarter-hour over the 1,000 hours.

Since the 20th century, interest in walking as a sport has dropped. Racewalking is still an Olympic sport, but fails to catch public attention as it did. However major walking feats are still performed, such as the Land's End to John o' Groats walk in the United Kingdom, and the traversal of North America from coast to coast. The first person to walk around the world was Dave Kunst who started his walk travelling east from Waseca, Minnesota on 20 June 1970 and completed his journey on 5 October 1974, when he re-entered the town from the west. These feats are often tied to charitable fundraising and are undertaken by celebrities such as Sir Jimmy Savile and Ian Botham as well as by others.

Footpaths and roads

Outdoor pedestrian networks

Pedestrian signal in Santa Ana, California. Coleccion de hombres cruzando.JPG
Pedestrian signal in Santa Ana, California.
The pedestrian Bauman Street in Kazan, Russia. Bauman Street.jpg
The pedestrian Bauman Street in Kazan, Russia.
In many jurisdictions in the United States, one must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Yieldpeds.jpg
In many jurisdictions in the United States, one must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Colorful pedestrian Light Tunnel at Detroit's DTW airport, United States. LightTunnelDetroit.jpg
Colorful pedestrian Light Tunnel at Detroit's DTW airport, United States.

Roads often have a designated footpath for pedestrian traffic, called the sidewalk in North American English, the pavement in British English, and the footpath in Australian and New Zealand English. There are also footpaths not associated with a road; these include urban short cuts and also rural paths used mainly by ramblers, hikers, or hill-walkers. Footpaths in mountainous or forested areas may also be called trails . Pedestrians share some footpaths with horses and bicycles: these paths may be known as bridleways. Other byways used by walkers are also accessible to vehicles. There are also many roads with no footpath. Some modern towns (such as the new suburbs of Peterborough in England) are designed with the network of sidewalks and cycle paths almost entirely separate from the road network.

The term trail is also used by the authorities in some countries to mean any footpath that is not attached to a road or street. [8] If such footpaths are in urban environments and are meant for both pedestrians and bicyclists, they can be called shared use paths [9] or multi-use paths in general and official usage.

Some shopping streets are for pedestrians only. Some roads have special pedestrian crossings. A bridge solely for pedestrians is a footbridge.

Under British law, regardless of whether there is a footpath, pedestrians have the right to use most public roads, excluding motorways and some toll tunnels and bridges such as the Blackwall Tunnel and the Dartford Crossing. The UK Highway Code advises that pedestrians should walk in the opposite direction to oncoming traffic on a road with no footpath. [10] However sharing roads with fast-moving traffic is highly dangerous.

Indoor pedestrian networks

Indoor pedestrian networks connect the different rooms or spaces of a building. Airports, museums, campuses, hospitals and shopping malls might have tools allowing for the computation of the shortest paths between two destinations. Their increasing availability is due to the complexity of path finding in these facilities. [11] Different mapping tools, such as OpenStreetMap, are extending to indoor spaces. [12]


Pedestrianisation might be considered as process of removing vehicular traffic from city streets or restricting vehicular access to streets for use by pedestrians, in order to improve the environment and the safety. [13]

Efforts are under way by pedestrian advocacy groups to restore pedestrian access to new developments, especially to counteract newer developments, 20% to 30% of which in the United States do not include footpaths. Some activists advocate large auto-free zones where pedestrians only or pedestrians and some non-motorised vehicles are allowed. Many urbanists have extolled the virtues of pedestrian streets in urban areas. In the U.S. the proportion of households without a car is 8%, but a notable exception is New York City, the only locality in the United States where more than half of all households do not own a car (the figure is even higher in Manhattan, over 75%). [14]

The use of cars for short journeys is officially discouraged in many parts of the world, and construction or separation of dedicated walking routes in city centres receives a high priority in many large cities in Western Europe, often in conjunction with public transport enhancements. In Copenhagen, the world's longest pedestrian shopping area, Strøget, has been developed over the last 40 years principally due to the work of Danish architect Jan Gehl, a principle of urban design known as copenhagenisation .

Safety issues

Safety is an important issue where cars can cross the pedestrian way. Drivers and pedestrians share some responsibility for improving safety of road users. [15] Road traffic crashes are not inevitable; they are both predictable and preventable. [13]

Key risks for pedestrians are well known. Among the well documented factors are: driver behaviour, (including speeding, drinking and driving); infrastructure missing facilities (including sidewalks, crossings and raised medians); and vehicle design which are not forgiving to pedestrians crashed by a vehicle. [13] Because pedestrians are not protected by their vehicle while car occupants are, pedestrians are usually classified in the vulnerable road user category, even in Canada. [16] Most of pedestrian are injured at crossing a street/road. [13] Most of pedestrian crash occur by night. [13] Most of pedestrians are killed by a frontal impact. In such a situation, a pedestrian is struck by a car front; for instance the bumper touch either the leg or knee-joint area; then, the lower part of the body is accelerated forwards, while the upper part of the body rotates and accelerated to the car; this will likely cause damage to the pelvis and thorax. Then the head hits the windscreen with the velocity of the striking car. Finally, the victim falls to the ground. [13]

Some special interest groups consider pedestrian fatalities on American roads a carnage. [17] Five states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas — produce 46% of all pedestrians deaths in the country. [17] The advent of SUVs is considered a leading cause; [18] speculation of other factors includes population growth, driver distraction with mobile phones, poor street lighting, alcohol and drugs and speeding. [17]

Cities have had mixed result in addressing pedestrian safety with Vizion zero plan: Los Angeles has failes while NYC has had success. Nonetheless in the US, some pedestrians have just 40 seconds to cross a 10 lanes street. [17]

Pedestrian fatalities are much more common in accident situations in the European Union than in the USA. In the European Union countries, more than 200,000 pedestrians and cyclists are injured annually. [19] Also, each year, more than 270 000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world's roads. [13] At a global level pedestrians constitute 22% of all road deaths, [13] but might be two thirds in some countries. [13] Pedestrian fatalities, in 2016, are 2.6 per million population in the Netherlands, 4.3 in Sweden, 4.5 per million population in Wales, 5.3 in New Zealand, 6.0 in Germany; 7.1 in United Kingdom, 7.5 in Australia, 8.4 in France, 8.4 in Spain, 9.4 in Italy, 11.1 in Israel, 13 in Japan, 13.8 in Greece, 18.5 in the United States of America, 22.9 in Poland, and 36.3 in Romania [20]

  • EU: Source CARE [21]
  • United-States: SourceNHTSA [22] (FARS ARF)

Road design impact on safety

It is well documented that a minor increase in speed might greatly increase the likelihood of a crash, and exacerbate resulting casualties. For this reason, the recommended maximum speed is 30 km/h or 40 km/h in residential and high pedestrian traffic areas, with enforced traffic rules on speed limits and traffic-calming measures. [13]

The design of road and streets plays a key role in pedestrian safety. Roads are too often designed for motorized vehicles, without taking into account pedestrian and bicycle needs. The non-existence of sidewalk and signals increases risk for pedestrians. This defect might more easily be observed on arterial roadways, intersections and fast-speed lanes without adequate attention to pedestrian facilities. [13] For instance, an assessment of roads in countries from many continents shows that 84% of roads are without pedestrian footpaths, while maximum limited speed is greater than 40 km/h. [13]

Among the factors which reduce road safety for pedestrians are wider lanes, roadway widening, and roadways designed for higher speeds and with increased numbers of traffic lanes. [13]

For this reason, some European cities such as Freiburg (Germany) have lowered the speed limit to 30 km/h on 90% of its streets, to reduce risk for its 15 000 people. With such policy, 24% of daily trips are performed by foot, against 28% by bicycles, 20% by public transport and 28% ( See Zone 30) [13]

A similar set of policies to discourage the use of cars and increase safety for pedestrians has been implemented by the Northern European capitals of Oslo and Helsinki. In 2019, this resulted in both cities counting zero pedestrian deaths for the first time. [23]


In Europe pedestrian fatalities have a seasonal factor, with 6% of annual fatalities occurring in April for 13% (twice more) occurring in December. The rational for such a change might be complex. [24]

Unconscious bias

In the US, drivers and road design have an unconscious bias which makes it is more dangerous to cross the road according to the color of one's skin. [25]

Pedestrian safety in the USA

Pedestrian crashes in the USA

In the US, killed pedestrian increased 27 percent between 2007 and 2016. [26]

In 2016 and 2017 near 6,000 pedestrians died in a motor vehicle crash. This did not occurred during the previous 25 years according to the GHSA. [26]

Each US state is not equal on the topic of pedesrian fatalities:

Possible cause of the increase of pedestrian fatalities are the decriminalization of the recreational use of marijuana (judgment and reaction time) and increased use of smartphones, source of distraction: [26]


Autonomous Cars as A Solution to Pedestrian Fatalities in Brooklyn

Across the United States, car-related pedestrian fatalities are happening at an increasing rate, since 2008 there has been a 41 percent increase, killing more than 6,000 pedestrians in 2018. In New York last year 221 people died in traffic-related crashes which is an increase over the past three years. These deadly crashes in New York are disproportionately involving cars and pedestrians in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is becoming known as the most dangerous place to ride your bike in New York as 60% of the bike fatalities occurred in this borough. Autonomous vehicles are being looked at as an answer to these dangerous and deadly crashes as they could reduce the risk of driving by reducing human error and therefore result in fewer deaths. More than 80 billion dollars being spent on autonomous vehicles and research since 2014. Currently, Boston based company Optimus Ride is testing autonomous driverless vehicles in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. After an accident last year involving a woman in Arizona being killed by a self-driving car that was being tested by Uber there is a lot of skepticism in the reliability of self-driving autonomous vehicles. Deaths such as this one in Arizona bring a lot of concern with driverless cars being brought to Brooklyn such as Optimus Ride’s driverless cars. Along with the technological advancements seen in autonomous cars there are as well other technological changes such as much larger digital displays in vehicles are raising concern of distracting drivers. Not only have there been many technological shifts in the auto industry there has as well been changes in the size of cars. The auto industry is making cars larger, there has been a large increase in the amount of SUV’s produced and therefore bought by Americans as SUV’s account for 60 percent of new car sales. With the increase in SUVs on the road, there has been a 69 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities because the front end of the SUV is higher than most cars which leads to more pedestrians being hit in the head or chest which makes SUVs twice as likely to pedestrians. Furthermore, during the recent coronavirus pandemic due to lockdowns, there was a massive absence of cars on the street of New York which led to a decrease in the number of pedestrian deaths. New York went a record two months without a pedestrian fatality which is a vast improvement from the average of 10 that occur every month.

Urban planning, Brooklyn, Self-driving car, Pedestrian crossing, Tesla, Inc.





State policies for pedestrian in the USA

Some states developed 3E policies with enforcement, engineering improvements, and public education, based on evidence-based strategies.

Separation of Pedestrians from Motor Vehicles can be improved with Refuge islands, Sidewalks, Pedestrian overpasses or Pedestrian underpasses, Countdown pedestrian signals, Pedestrian hybrid beacons (or HAWK signals). [26]

Pedestrians can be more visible to drivers with Improved street lighting, High-visibility crosswalks, Rapid-flashing beacons. [26]

Engineering and Enforcement Measures to Reduce Speeds with increased space for modes other than motor vehicles, roundabouts (or traffic circles), Traffic calming devices including speed humps or curb extension, Automated traffic enforcement. [26]

Montana yearly reviews fatalities on high-risk roads and constructs infrastructure improvements (midblock crossing improvements; signal coordination and timing improvements; improved lighting; and improved signing). Il also requires pedestrian issues are considered during a construction project. Montana pedestrian fatalities decrease by 37% between first semesters 2016 end 2017. [26]

Vermont has a Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Program since 2015. Vermont pedestrian fatalities decreased by 60% between first semesters 2016 and 2017. [26]

Connecticut DOT is also involved in statewide policy. Connecticut pedestrian fatalities decreased by 35% between first semesters 2016 and 2017. [26]

In California, the California Department of Transportation provides new roundabouts while the Office of Traffic Safety is funds Pedestrian Assessments in cities where many pedestrian crashes occur, based on engineering, education and enforcement strategies. California pedestrian fatalities decreased by 18% between first semesters 2016 and 2017. [26]

In Texas, the DOT worked on pedestrian issues on I-35 in the Austin area and distributed reflective bags to at-risk groups (homeless population and school children). [26] Education is also provided for bicycle, pedestrian, children and alcohol. [26] Texas also relies on engineering with marked crosswalks, pedestrian signals (including pedestrian hybrid beacons), new sidewalks, median islands, and bulb-outs. [26] Texas pedestrian fatalities decreased by 18% between first semesters 2016 and 2017. [26]

Health benefits and environment

Regular walking is important both for human health and for the natural environment. Frequent exercise such as walking tends to reduce the chance of obesity and related medical problems. In contrast, using a car for short trips tends to contribute both to obesity and via vehicle emissions to climate change: internal combustion engines are more inefficient and highly polluting during their first minutes of operation (engine cold start). General availability of public transportation encourages walking, as it will not, in most cases, take one directly to one's destination.


In Unicode, the hexadecimal code for "pedestrian" is 1F6B6. In XML and HTML, the string 🚶 produces 🚶. [31]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sidewalk Pedestrian path along the side of a road

A sidewalk, pavement, footpath, or footway, is a path along the side of a road. Usually constructed of concrete or asphalt, it is designed for pedestrians. A sidewalk may accommodate moderate changes in grade (height) and is normally separated from the vehicular section by a curb. There may also be a median strip or road verge either between the sidewalk and the roadway or between the sidewalk and the boundary.

Pedestrian crossing Place designated for pedestrians to cross a road, street or avenue

A pedestrian crossing or crosswalk is a place designated for pedestrians to cross a road, street or avenue. The term "pedestrian crossing" is also used in some international treaties that pertain to road traffic and road signs, such as the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

Traffic calming

Traffic calming uses physical design and other measures to improve safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. It has become a tool to combat speeding and other unsafe behaviours of drivers in the neighbourhoods. It aims to encourage safer, more responsible driving and potentially reduce traffic flow. Urban planners and traffic engineers have many strategies for traffic calming, including narrowed roads and speed humps. Such measures are common in Australia and Europe, but less so in North America. Traffic calming is a calque of the German word Verkehrsberuhigung – the term's first published use in English was in 1985 by Carmen Hass-Klau.

Automotive safety

Automotive safety is the study and practice of design, construction, equipment and regulation to minimize the occurrence and consequences of traffic collisions involving motor vehicles. Road traffic safety more broadly includes roadway design.

Road traffic safety Methods and measures for reducing the risk of death and injury on roads

Road traffic safety refers to the methods and measures used to prevent road users from being killed or seriously injured. Typical road users include pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, vehicle passengers, horse riders, and passengers of on-road public transport.


Jaywalking occurs when a pedestrian walks in or crosses a roadway that has traffic, other than at a suitable crossing point, or otherwise in disregard of traffic rules. The term originated with jay-drivers, people who drove horse-drawn carriages and automobiles on the wrong side of the road, before taking its current meaning.

Living street

A living street is a street designed in the interests of pedestrians and cyclists. Living streets also act as social spaces, allowing children to play and encouraging social interactions on a human scale, safely and legally. These roads are still available for use by motor vehicles, however their design aims to reduce both the speed and dominance of motorised transport. This is often achieved using the shared space approach, with greatly reduced demarcations between vehicle traffic and pedestrians. Vehicle parking may also be restricted to designated bays. These street design principles first became popularized in the Netherlands during the 1970’s, and the Dutch word woonerf is often used as a synonym for living street.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety U.S. nonprofit organization

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a U.S. nonprofit organization funded by auto insurance companies, established in 1959 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. It works to reduce the number of motor vehicle traffic collisions, and the rate of injuries and amount of property damage in the crashes that still occur. It carries out research and produces ratings for popular passenger vehicles as well as for certain consumer products such as child car booster seats. It also conducts research on road design and traffic regulations, and has been involved in promoting policy decisions.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted in the United States in 1966 to empower the federal government to set and administer new safety standards for motor vehicles and road traffic safety. The Act was the first mandatory federal safety standards for motor vehicles. The Act created the National Highway Safety Bureau. The Act was one of a number of initiatives by the government in response to increasing number of cars and associated fatalities and injuries on the road following a period when the number of people killed on the road had increased 6-fold and the number of vehicles was up 11-fold since 1925. The reduction of the rate of death attributable to motor-vehicle crashes in the United States represents the successful public health response to a great technologic advance of the 20th century—the motorization of America.

Motor vehicle fatality rate in U.S. by year

The table below shows the motor vehicle fatality rate in the United States by year from 1899 through 2018. It excludes indirect car-related fatalities.

Bicycle safety

Bicycle safety is the use of road traffic safety practices to reduce risk associated with cycling. Risk can be defined as the number of incidents occurring for a given amount of cycling. In many countries both the number of incidents and the amount of cycling are not well known. Non-fatal accidents often go unreported and bicycle use is only occasionally monitored. Some of this subject matter is hotly debated: for example, the discussions as to whether bicycle helmets or cyclepaths really improve safety. The merits of obeying the rules of the road including the use of bicycle lighting at night are less controversial.

Road diet Transportation planning technique

A road diet, also called a lane reduction or road rechannelization, is a technique in transportation planning whereby the number of travel lanes and/or effective width of the road is reduced in order to achieve systemic improvements.

Transportation safety in the United States

Transportation safety in the United States encompasses safety of transportation in the United States, including automobile crashes, airplane crashes, rail crashes, and other mass transit incidents, although the most fatalities are generated by road incidents.

Motorized scooter Powered stand-up scooter

A motorized scooter is a powered stand-up scooter using a small utility internal combustion engine or, more commonly, an electric motor. Classified as a form of micro-mobility, these scooters are generally designed with a large deck in the center on which the rider stands. The first production scooter, the "Sport", was released by Go-Ped in 1985.

Complete streets Transportation policy and design approach

Complete streets is a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Complete Streets allow for safe travel by those walking, cycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, or delivering goods.

Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997. A core principle of the vision is that 'Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society' rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much money to spend on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing risk.

Road collision types

Road traffic collisions generally fall into one of four common types:

Traffic collision When a vehicle collides with another object

A traffic collision, also called a motor vehicle collision, car accident, or car crash, occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree, pole or building. Traffic collisions often result in injury, disability, death, and property damage as well as financial costs to both society and the individuals involved. Road transport is the most dangerous situation people deal with on a daily basis, but casualty figures from such incidents attract less media attention than other, less frequent types of tragedy.

Bikeway safety

Safety of dedicated or segregated cycle facilities is controversial. Proponents say that segregation of cyclists from fast or frequent motorized traffic is necessary to provide a safe cycling environment. For example, a 2010 Montreal study found that cycle tracks were associated with fewer injuries when compared to comparable parallel roads with no cycling facilities.

The death of Elaine Herzberg was the first recorded case of a pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving (autonomous) car, after a collision that occurred late in the evening of March 18, 2018. Herzberg was pushing a bicycle across a four-lane road in Tempe, Arizona, United States, when she was struck by an Uber test vehicle, which was operating in self-drive mode with a human safety backup driver sitting in the driving seat. Herzberg was taken to the local hospital where she died of her injuries.


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