Applying a Pedestrian Level of Service in the Context of Social Distancing: The Case of the City of Madrid

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Oct 20;18(21):11037. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182111037.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of discussion about keeping interpersonal distance to prevent the virus from spreading. To keep this interpersonal distance, authorities at different levels have taken measures to reduce people's interactions, such as reducing capacities, curfews, pop-up cycle lanes, temporary pedestrianisation, and lockdowns. Many of these temporary measures have been perceived from a static view. Nevertheless, in a scenario of "new normality" or in the face of a possible new pandemic, the amount of data (big data) generated by different sources, such as sensors, in large cities has extraordinary potential to be used together with tactical urbanism for quick adaptation. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the aforementioned issues by analysing spatio-temporal patterns of pedestrian mobility and developing a variation of the pedestrian level of service measure; the pandemic pedestrian level of service (P-PLOS). This measure provides a dynamic view of pavement capacities according to the interpersonal distance recommendations during the pandemic. P-PLOS was tested in the city of Madrid based on the pedestrian counter data that was provided by the local government through its open data website. We found that the application of P-PLOS, together with street design, allows for knowing where and when it is necessary to take tactical urbanism measures in order to maintain or improve the level of service, as well as where it is necessary to take measures to reduce pedestrian flow.

Keywords: COVID-19; level-of-service; pedestrian mobility; smart cities; tactical urbanism; walking.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cities
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pedestrians*
  • Physical Distancing
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Walking