Impact of COVID-19 policies on pedestrian traffic and walking patterns

Avital Angel, Achituv Cohen, Sagi Dalyot, Pnina Plaut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spread of COVID-19 pandemic provoked new policies and restrictions, which had an unprecedented impact on urban mobility and traffic on local and global scales. While changes in motorized traffic were investigated and monitored throughout the recent pandemic crisis in many cities around the world, not much was done on the changes in pedestrian street-traffic and walking patterns during this time. This study aims to identify, quantify, and analyze the changes in pedestrian traffic and walking patterns induced by COVID-19 policies. The “first wave” period of COVID-19 policies in Tel-Aviv, Israel, is used as a case study in this work. The analysis includes over 116 million pedestrian movement records documented by a network of 65 Bluetooth sensors, between 1.2.2020 and 26.7.2020, with a comparison to the equivalent time in 2019 that signifies “normal” pre-COVID-19 conditions. The results show clear correlation between the various COVID-19 policy restrictions and pedestrian count. The shifts to work-from-home and closure of businesses were highly correlated with changes in walking patterns during weekdays, while distinguishing changes in commercial and residential street segments. Nevertheless, while the restrictions dramatically influenced pedestrian movement volume and time of walking, it did not significantly change where people chose to walk, signifying the essentialness of attractive streets, parks and squares for citizens living in urban areas. This study shows how policy affects walking behavior in cities, demonstrating the potential of passive crowdsourced sensing technologies to provide urban planners and decision makers an efficient tool for monitoring and evaluating pedestrian infrastructure implementation in cities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1193
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Bluetooth sensor network
  • COVID-19 policy
  • crowdsourced big data
  • pedestrian traffic
  • walking patterns

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of COVID-19 policies on pedestrian traffic and walking patterns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this