Pedestrians and freeways are not supposed to coexist in any proximity to each other, yet in Cape Town, South Africa, the Freeway Management System (FMS) has recorded an alarming increase in pedestrian activity on its freeways in recent years, with a similar trend in (fatal) freeway pedestrian crashes. This paper reports on the development of a series of discrete choice models for pedestrian crossing decisions in a highly volatile and vulnerable freeway crossing environment. We hypothesize that freeway pedestrian crossing is driven by personal factors and the perceived risks associated with completing the crossing using a footbridge or (illegally) at-grade. We test this assumption by making use of stated choice and risk perception data collected from (adult) participants intercepted along three Cape Town freeways. Estimating mixed logit and hybrid choice models we look at the role of random heterogeneity and latent risk perception in the choice to cross at-grade or using a footbridge. The model estimates confirm that, as expected, crossing choice is largely influenced by a combination of built environment, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, next to some socio-demographic factors, but also risk perception. The study brings to light the seemingly opposite effect of some of the factors on risk perception and crossing choice. We also show that risk perception really only influences crossing choice in terms of the perception of at-grade crossing risk, where the impact is however non-trivial. Finally, we look at the implied relative sensitivities of the choice attributes within and between the crossing alternatives, as well between the three estimated models, amongst others demonstrating the power of the hybrid choice model over the other two. The results of the study can inform opportunities to counter the upward trend of fatalities and provide suggestions for policy-making that would lead to improved freeway crossing safety.
Dada, M., Zuidgeest, M. & Hess, S. (2019), Modelling pedestrian crossing choice behaviour on Cape Town freeways: caught between a rock and a hard place? Transportation Research Part F, 60, pp. 245-261.