In the Eye of the Pedestrian: Exploring the Use of Mobile Eye-Tracking Technology to Measure Pedestrian Perception and Behavior Across Urban Environments

Author: ORCID icon
de Cardenas, Carreen, Civil Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Chen, Tong, EN-CEE, University of Virginia

Walking is one of the most sustainable and equitable modes of transportation and the creation of safe and pleasant pedestrian infrastructure is vital for promoting this form of mobility. Understanding pedestrian behaviors, preferences, and perception of the built environment is essential for creating spaces that promote more active modes of transportation. However, the ability to measure these elements in real-world settings was limited until recently, with the introduction of mobile eye-tracking glasses. This thesis establishes an Urban Typologies framework to employ the mobile sensors for research in urban settings. Then, the thesis presents the experimental procedure and initial findings from two case studies that utilize mobile eye-tracking technology and stated-preference surveys to gain insight about the pedestrian experience in different urban environments. The first case study focuses on pedestrian interaction with a temporarily repurposed street in Staunton, Virginia. The second case study uses the glasses to examine variations in pedestrian perception along the same corridor during the daytime compared to the nighttime and explores the influence of lighting conditions. These studies explore the potential of this relatively new technology for this field of research and set the groundwork for future studies that measure attention, perception, and cognition. Having a method to study these elements in a real world setting allows decision makers to evaluate how designs and policies can make safe spaces for pedestrians and alter the urban experience.

MS (Master of Science)
Pedestrians, Eye-Tracking, Transportation
Issued Date: