First custom-designed pedestrian accessibility lab launched
2 June 2006
The first custom-designed lab to investigate how pedestrians interact with the urban environment will be launched today Thursday 1 June by UCL (University College London).
The Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA) simulates existing and proposed pedestrian environments and will allow researchers to isolate the hazards encountered by pedestrians.
The £1.5 million facility will allow existing "open space" accessibility issues to be examined rigorously under controlled conditions. It will also enable infrastructure designs to be checked, thereby avoiding the possibility of costly mistakes on site arising from a subsequent accessibility audit.
The lab consists of an elevated demountable paved platform that is approximately 80 square metres in size and able to be configured to various layouts. Features such as the layout, surface material, colour and texture, gradients, step heights and the positions of obstacles can also be adjusted. To fully mimic the pedestrian experience it is possible to vary lighting levels, acoustics and wet weather.
Professor Nick Tyler, of the UCL Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, says: "This is the first opportunity in the world to be able to study how all the various factors involved in the pedestrian environment come together to make life difficult for people. It provides exciting opportunities for research and improvements in design practice as well as testing new ideas and products for use in the pedestrian environment. This will become very important as the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 comes into force later this year."
The PAMELA project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is part of the Accessibility Research Group's facilities in the Centre for Transport Studies of the UCL Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.
Further details about PAMELA can be found at: http://www.cts.ucl.ac.uk/arg/pamela2/project/
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Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. In the government's most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 59 UCL departments achieved top ratings of 5* and 5, indicating research quality of international excellence.
UCL is the fourth-ranked UK university in the 2005 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Mahatma Gandhi (Laws 1889, Indian political and spiritual leader); Jonathan Dimbleby (Philosophy 1969, writer and television presenter); Junichiro Koizumi (Economics 1969, Prime Minister of Japan); Lord Woolf (Laws 1954, former Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales); Alexander Graham Bell (Phonetics 1860s, inventor of the telephone); and members of the band Coldplay.