The technology used for gauging street use may now be employed to keep track of a shift to alternative modes of transportation — specifically, walking. Pedestrian use is one of the key forms of transportation that larger cities are focusing on. With more people walking and biking in heavy traffic, it’s becoming more important to keep them safe.
In an article by Jeff McMahon for Forbes, Stephen Smith of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute states, "We’ve heard about detection technologies that enable to us to detect bikes, and we’re looking at buses and pedestrians. We have the detection technologies that allow us to model pedestrians, vehicles, bikers and transit in an integrated way."
Through the use of these detection technologies, pedestrian use of the streets can be tracked and people can be kept safe from drivers that tend to speed or run through red lights. "Automated speed-limit control will slow cars, making streets safer for pedestrians," said Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. He also noted that fatalities have declined 60 percent at intersections equipped with red-light cameras.
At the Complete Streets Symposium Klein stated, "People should feel like there might be a camera right on every corner. And some people might say well gosh that sounds like a police state. But we have too many kids in particular and people from all walks of life who are hit by cars. We’ve got to change that. More than 38 percent of Chicagoans travel in something other than a personal car, typically by bus, train, bicycle or on foot. The city plans to increase that number to 50 percent by 2030 by making streets friendlier to alternative modes."
With an increase in foot traffic and cyclists in busy cities, the need for more detection technologies will be necessary, not only for the alternate transportation folks, but also for drivers. So if you’re a walker or a cyclist, keep a close watch for other drivers who might not being paying attention at intersections.