Experimental Study on Single-File Movement with Different Stop Distances

  • Qiao Wang
  • Weiguo SongEmail author
  • Jun Zhang
  • Liping Lian
  • Siuming Lo
Conference paper


The single-file movement formed at exit, passageway, and stairway is a common and fundamental phenomenon in building evacuation when fire happened. In order to investigate single-file movement, the controlled experiments contained three parts: acceleration, steady state, and deceleration are effective research methods. In this paper, we conducted single-file movement experiments with two different commands in decelerating phase: (1) normal stop, (2) close stop, i.e., stop at the place as close as possible to the predecessor, in which participants move at different free moving speed. Through rescaling the speed, there is no influence for different free moving speed on speed–distance headway relationship. The linear fitting curve is executed to obtain a quantitative description of the speed–distance headway relation, and the slope in the close stop experiment is larger than that in the normal stop. It is found that there is a little difference in the decelerating phase for different participants and the average close stop distance is 0.34 m, which is a little bigger than average chest width 0.3 m. For the normal stop, the comfortable stop distance is dependent on individual proxemics. In the relation of speed–time, it was divided into two stages, which is fitted using linear regression. The value of negative acceleration in stage I is greater than stage II. Similar to the fitting result of speed–distance headway, participants in close stop experiments have bigger negative acceleration in stage I. However, in stage II, due to the uncertainty of close stop distance for different participants, the value of negative acceleration in close stop is smaller. Actually, in normal conditions, participants stopped with their comfortable stop distance when the predecessor stopped. However, in emergency or hurried conditions, the stop distance would be smaller. Therefore, it is useful to investigate the movement behavior in an emergency (such as fire and earthquake) and hurried conditions when the predecessor stopped suddenly.


Single-file movement Stop distance Speed-headway relation Speed–time relation 



Distance headway of pedestrian i at time t


X-axis coordinate of pedestrian’s head at time t


Speed of pedestrian i at time t


Time interval


Slope of linear fitting


Intercept of linear fitting


Coefficient of determination






This research was supported by Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0802508), National Natural Science Foundation of China (51120165001), the National Basic Research Program of China (2012CB719705), Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (20133402110009), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (WK2320000035). All authors carried out the research together. Qiao Wang, Weiguo Song and Jun Zhang had the original idea for the research. Qiao Wang was responsible for organization of the research participants, data analyses and the manuscript drafted. Lo Siuming and Liping Lian provided research methodology assistance and language help. All authors read, revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qiao Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Weiguo Song
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jun Zhang
    • 1
  • Liping Lian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Siuming Lo
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Fire ScienceUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Architectural EngineeringCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong

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