A Multidisciplinary Approach to Mobility Education Based on Traffic Physics and Crowd Theory
Advanced Aspects of Engineering Research Vol. 13,
12 May 2021
Crowding is a fact with which we are all too familiar.
The application of physics, mathematics, and biology to a traffic jam crowd will provide practical assistance in determining how and why this troublesome condition happens, as well as what ways can be sought to overcome it.
We conducted an experiment on crowd behaviour by simulating a situation with heavy city traffic as part of the mobility education project "SicuraMente."
We demonstrated that a route with restricted access can create a traffic jam and that the crowd of pedestrians can be minimised by requiring the crowd to use dedicated streets, using an experimental situation proposed in traffic physics as a model. Taking the outgoing time of the student crowd from the outlet road, with and without the presence of an obstacle in the middle of the roadway, it was found that the traffic jam is resolved more quickly in the situation with an obstacle because the flow of people is divided into two separate channels, reducing the probability that two individuals are close and that this creates an obstruction (example of counter-intuitive physical principle).
We also discovered that the speed of the crowd's constituents has an effect on the creation of traffic jams, which are on average more likely when the speed is higher.
Students have reasoned not only about physics subjects, but also about proper traffic behaviour, because of these essential factors in the design of road networks and transportation infrastructure. In terms of teaching in the framework of a mix of academic disciplines, in which road safety education has become the context and the target, the multidisciplinary approach to education for healthy and sustainable mobility, which was so revolutionary in Italy, proved to be effective. The context can be considered for establishing a continuous link among different subjects, different school levels and for producing innovation in teaching methods.
- Mobility education
- physics of traffic
- crowd theory
- middle school