Modeling walker synchronization on the millennium bridge

Bruno Eckhardt*, Edward Ott, Steven H. Strogatz, Daniel M. Abrams, Allan McRobie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


On its opening day the London Millennium footbridge experienced unexpected large amplitude wobbling subsequent to the migration of pedestrians onto the bridge. Modeling the stepping of the pedestrians on the bridge as phase oscillators, we obtain a model for the combined dynamics of people and the bridge that is analytically tractable. It provides predictions for the phase dynamics of individual walkers and for the critical number of people for the onset of oscillations. Numerical simulations and analytical estimates reproduce the linear relation between pedestrian force and bridge velocity as observed in experiments. They allow prediction of the amplitude of bridge motion, the rate of relaxation to the synchronized state and the magnitude of the fluctuations due to a finite number of people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021110
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 12 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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