Comparison of Pedestrian Count Expansion Methods: Land Use Groups versus Empirical Clusters


Expansion factors based on the trends in long-term count data are useful tools for estimating daily, weekly, or annual volumes from short-term counts, but it is unclear how to differentiate locations by activity pattern. This paper compares two approaches to developing factor groups for hour-to-week pedestrian count expansion factors. The land use (LU) classification approach assumes that surrounding LUs affect the pedestrian activity at a location, and it is easy to apply to short-term count locations based on identifiable attributes of the site. The empirical clustering (EC) approach uses statistical methods to match locations based on the actual counts, which may produce more accurate volume estimates, but presents a challenge for determining which factor group to apply to a location. We found that both the LU and EC approaches provided better weekly pedestrian volume estimates than the single factor approach of taking the average of all locations. Further, the differences between LU and EC estimation errors were modest, so it may be beneficial to use the intuitive and practical LU approach. LU groupings can also be modified with insights from the EC results, thus improving estimates while maintaining the ease of application. Ideal times for short-term counts are during peak activity periods, as they generally produce estimates with fewer errors than off-peak periods. Weekly volume estimated from longer-duration counts (e.g., 12 h) is generally more accurate than estimates from shorter-duration counts (e.g., 2 h). Practitioners can follow this guidance to improve the quality of weekly pedestrian volume estimates.

Publication date: 
August 22, 2018
Publication type: 
Journal Article