New Research on Pre-Pandemic Physical Distancing and Travel Behavior led by Prof. Thakuriah

January 10, 2024

Physical distancing and its association with travel behavior in daily pre-pandemic urban life: An analysis utilizing lifelogging images and composite survey and mobility data


This study analyzed physical distancing in people’s daily lives and its association with travel behavior and the use of transportation modes before the COVID-19 outbreak. We used data from photographic images acquired automatically by lifelogging devices every 5 seconds, on average, from 170 participants of a 2-day wearable camera study, in order to identify their physical distancing status throughout the day. Using deep-learning computer vision algorithms, we developed three measures which provided a near-continuous quantification of the proportion of time spent without anyone else within a distance of approximately 13 meters, as well as the proportion of time spent without others within approximately 2 meters. These measures are then used as outcomes in beta regression and multinomial logit models to explore the association between the participant’s physical distancing and travel behavior and transportation choices. The multidisciplinary research approach to understand these associations accounted for a number of social, economic, and cultural factors that potentially influenced their physical isolation levels. We found that participants spend a significant amount of time physically separated from others, without anyone else within 2 meters. The use of public transportation, automobiles, active travel, and an increase in trip frequency, including trips to transportation facilities, reduced the extent of physical distancing, with public transportation having the most significant impact. Higher incomes, strong social networks, and a sense of belonging to the community reduced the tendency for physical distancing. In contrast, factors such as age, obesity, dog ownership, intensive use of the Internet, and being knowledgeable about climate change issues increased the likelihood of physical distancing. The paper addresses a crucial gap in our understanding of how these factors intersect to create the dynamics of physical distancing in non-emergency situations and highlights their planning and operational implications while showcasing the use of unique person-based physical distancing measures derived from autonomously collected image data.

Read Article

Thakuriah, P., C. Boididou and J. Hong (2023). Physical distancing and its association with travel behavior in daily pre-pandemic urban life: An analysis utilizing lifelogging images and composite survey and mobility data. In Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science.

Recent Posts

Nikpour Receives Office of Disability Services Award

Professor Fereydoun Nikpour was selected for the Office of Disability Services Faculty Honor Roll. The Faculty Honor Roll is a new initiative to recognize instructors who go above and beyond to support the work of the Office of Disability Services (ODS). ODS staff...

Heldrich Report: NJ’s Energy-Efficiency Workforce Needs

New Jersey's Energy-Efficiency Workforce Needs, Infrastructure, and Equity Assessment New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan and Executive Order 315 set a goal to reduce fossil fuel usage to 100% clean energy by 2035. The Executive Order also called for...

Shaul Picker Receives 2024 Mortensen-Voorhees Award

Shaul Picker is the 2024 recipient of the Mortensen-Voorhees Award for Achievement in Transportation Studies. This award is granted annually to the highest-achieving student with a concentration in transportation at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Urban Planning and...

NJSPL – Key Insights from Early Offshore Wind Implementation

By Jessica Parineet Offshore wind development is in its early stages in the United States, with just under one gigawatt (GW) of utility scale capacity constructed. State decarbonization goals have catalyzed industry progress thus far, however the Biden administration...

EJB Talks: Political Update with Stuart Shapiro and Amy Cobb

Analyzing Trump's Guilty Verdict and the 2024 Election Outlook Stuart Shapiro welcomes back Amy Cobb MPAP '18 for a political update in the final EJB Talks episode of the spring 2024 season. They discuss the potential consequences of Trump's guilty verdict for...

Upcoming Events

Latest Past Events

Jersey City Alumni Mixer

Zeppelin Hall Biergarten 88 Liberty View Dr, Jersey City

Join us for an alumni mixer in #JerseyCity on Thursday, June 6th at Zeppelin Hall Biergarten. Parking for Zeppelin Hall is FREE - more information can be found here: This […]