On the assessment of pedestrian distress in urban winds

Giulio Vita, Zhenru Shu, Mike Jesson, Andrew Quinn, Hassan Hemida, Mark Sterling, Christopher Baker

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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Urban winds can cause a risk to pedestrian safety if not properly assessed. High-rise buildings produce a complex flow field at ground level, where regions of accelerated and recirculating flows are present. Gust wind speeds provide an indication of the maximal speed pedestrian might experience due to the unsteady flow. In this study, low- and high-fidelity numerical and experimental techniques to predict pedestrian level winds are tested on a realistic full-scale test-route at the University of Birmingham Campus during a storm event. Results show that it is beneficial to increase the complexity of simulations as a direct correspondence exists between the gust wind speed and the turbulent environment. While not much gain is achieved switching from Irwin Probes to hot-wire anemometry, LES greatly outperforms RANS and challenges experimental simulations in terms of reliability. The validity of the peak factor is also questioned and a general comment on the adequacy of each technique is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104200
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
Early online date7 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Gustiness
  • Large eddy simulation
  • Pedestrian wind
  • Urban flow
  • Wind tunnel


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