Pedestrians tend to sync their steps, resulting in the structure’s big swings
Some bridges could really put a swing in your step.
Crowds walking on a bridge can cause it to sway — sometimes dangerously. Using improved simulations to represent how people walk, scientists have now devised a better way to calculate under what conditions this swaying may arise, researchers report November 10 online in Science Advances.
When a bridge — typically a suspension bridge — is loaded with strolling pedestrians, their gaits can sync, causing the structure to shimmy from side to side. The new study “allows us to better predict the crowd size at which significant wobbling can appear abruptly,” says mathematician Igor Belykh of Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Engineers might eventually use the researchers’ results to avoid debacles like the