Walking and talking: The effect of smartphone use and group conversation on pedestrian speed

Keywords: Walking, Smartphones, Socializing, Pedestrian Speed


Distracted walking due to smartphone use is on the rise resulting in growing concern over pedestrian safety and well-being. Our study measured the walking speeds of pedestrian groups differentiated by their smartphone use in two different environments - a wide pedestrian bridge at a university, and a narrow footpath on a busy commercial street. The results show that groups of people, phone users, and often followers of phone users, walk significantly slower than solo walkers uninfluenced by phone. Especially on the narrow street, people in groups and phone users are seen to not only slow themselves down but also slow the people walking behind them.


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Author Biographies

Lexie Reynolds Walsh, University of Sydney

She has a Bachelor of Arts (Social Anthropology and History) and a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) both completed at the University of Sydney. She is currently a Project Engineer with Roads and Maritime Services NSW working in Regional Maintenance Division at Wagga Wagga.

Tingsen (Tim) Xian, University of Sydney

He is a current Transport Engineering student at the University of Sydney. He started research in Pedestrian Behaviour in 2017. He is a founding member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers the University of Sydney chapter.

David Matthew Levinson, University of Sydney, School of Civil Engineering

Prof. David Levinson joined the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney in 2017 as Foundation Professor in Transport Engineering. He was a Professor at the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering at the University of Minnesota, from 1999 to 2016. He conducts research on Accessibility, Transport Economics, Transport Network Evolution, and Transport and Land Use Interaction. He is the Founding Editor of Transport Findings and the Journal of Transport and Land Use. He is the author of several books including: The Transportation Experience, Planning for Place and Plexus, A Political Economy of Access, Elements of Access, and The End of Traffic and the Future of Access. He blogs at http://transportist.org.

Hema Sharanya Rayaprolu, University of Sydney

He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. She has a Master of Science degree in Transportation Systems from the Technical University of Munich. Her research interests include Transport Network Evolution, Travel Demand Modelling, Transport and Land Use Interaction, and Planning for Walking and Cycling.



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How to Cite
Walsh, L., Xian, T., Levinson, D., & Rayaprolu, H. (2019). Walking and talking: The effect of smartphone use and group conversation on pedestrian speed. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 12(3), 283-294. https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/6088
Land Use, Mobility and Environment