Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Cambridge launches its own Millennium bridge investigation

A SIX-PEDESTRIAN treadmill has been added to Cambridge University's wobbly bridge simulator, built by department of engineering staff in response to problems on London's Millennium bridge.

Structural engineering lecturer Allan McRobie said he launched the project after his wife and children described the wild ride they had experienced on the crossing's opening day.

'I had to miss the opening, but from what I heard there was obviously a serious problem, ' McRobie explained.

He went straight into his workshop and built the test bed largely out of scaffold tubing and planking for 'virtually nothing - apart from a £20 Vauxhall Astra shock absorber and some springs from the local DIY store'.

Adding a standard one-person treadmill compensated for the short length of the platform, and allowed initial observations of human response to lateral movement to be made.

McRobie said the platform's damping ratio could be adjusted from zero up to 50% of critical.

The larger treadmill, which was constructed last week, would, he added, allow more realistic simulations of crowd behaviour.

Representatives from Millennium bridge designer Ove Arup have already inspected the simulator. Departmental head Professor David Newland has been appointed as an advisor by client the London Millennium Bridge Trust - but there has so far been no outside funding for McRobie's work.

Imperial College researchers have begun trials with their swaying footbridge simulator, it was confirmed this week.

Tight security surrounds the intensive research programme, which is intended to produce hard data on pedestrian inputs for Millennium Bridge designer Ove Arup. Informed sources suggest that Imperial has fitted sensors to the deck to measure the loads from volunteers attempting to balance themselves against induced sway.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.