Research Explains Why Pedestrians ‘Break the Rules’ (War on Cars Watch)

A man in wheelchair rolls up to the crosswalk at State Street in Rockford, Ill.

He sees there is no ADA ramp, stops, and then turns around. He rolls down a driveway and then into the street. Briefly mixing with traffic, he rolls around the curb and back onto the crosswalk.

This tiny failure was one of hundreds of captured by University of Illinois master’s student Michael Smith showing how pedestrians interact with drivers and the infrastructure along a dangerous stretch of State Street. The clips were recorded by time-lapse camera at three locations as part of his master’s thesis.

When pedestrians are hurt or injured, there’s a reflexive impulse in America to blame them, for jaywalking, or for being distracted.

But Smith’s videos found pedestrians’ behavior is influenced a lot by the environment: They’re more likely engage in risky behavior — like walking or rolling in the street or crossing mid-block — when the pedestrian infrastructure is incomplete or lacking.