Pedestrians fast and slow

people stand on the footpath waiting to cross on the pedestrian crossing. The street is in JapanOlder people who walk slowly or unsteadily can find themselves bumped by faster walkers as they try to weave around them. This can be stressful for older people, particularly in crowded streets. A Japanese group think that a smartphone device could help this situation and their work is outlined in a conference paper. Regardless of whether a smartphone app would be of use, it is clear that this is an issue in some large cities. If being a slow walker in the midst of fast walkers is stressful it could stop some older people from getting out and about in such environments. Perhaps the answer is wider footpaths and narrower vehicle road space. The language used has not translated well, such as “wobbling elderly people”, but this is a new take on the issue of being about to get out and about. Here is a snippet from the paper:
“… it turns out that a lot of elderly people are physically challenged to realise the movement of pedestrians or bicycles approaching from the opposite direction. Moreover, it was found that there are a lot of elderly people who find it difficult to recognise the danger that they themselves pose to others. … Meanwhile, an elderly person with wobbly feet and weak balance begins to feel crowded while trying to walk at his own pace. However, unintentionally he ends up wandering to the left and right instead of walking straight. Hence, the situation requires other pedestrians to anticipate and react instantly to hinder a potential danger whether of a person walking fast, coming from the opposite direction, or of a passing bicycle speeding by the elderly person at a close distance.” 

Shows older Japanese people with wheelie walkers on the streetThe full title of the paper is, An information presentation system for wobbling elderly people and those around them in walking spaces. It is by Koshi Ogawa, Takashi Sakamoto, and Toshikazu Kato.