Pedestrian-Induced Bridge Response: Using a modal response model to predict the vibrations of a bridge when subjected to periodic pedestrian loads
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The availability and use of new materials and construction techniques are allowing bridges to be built that are longer and more slender to those that have been constructed in the past. This can cause bridges to have lower stiffness and damping, and thus be less able to resist dynamic effects. This is of special concern for pedestrian bridges, because the harmonic loads that pedestrians apply to the bridge have the potential to excite the bridge’s natural frequencies. In addition, pedestrians can be sensitive to these vibrations. A model was developed in order to better understand the effects that a pedestrian can have on these vibration-prone bridges. The model consisted of two parts: a finite element model that used the structural data for the bridge in order to produce mass-normalized mode shapes, and a bridge-pedestrian interaction program that used the structural and modal data, along with pedestrian loading scenarios, to generate the bridge response. A parametric study of two bridges was conducted. The bridges included: a short span bridge that would not be expected to respond excessively to pedestrian loads, and a long-span, lively bridge that had natural frequencies in the range of pedestrian loading. Many loading cases were examined by varying the following parameters: load case, number of pedestrians, damping, and pacing frequency. The modal solution was an effective method of finding the bridge responses. It was determined that pedestrian loads can be represented by a simple constant plus sinusoidal load. The excessive vibrations of long and slender bridges could be addressed by increasing damping on susceptible modes.