New study sheds more light on what caused Millennium Bridge to wobble

London's Millennium Bridge had issues with excessive shaking and swaying when it first opened in June 2000.

Enlarge / London’s Millennium Bridge had issues with excessive shaking and swaying when it first opened in June 2000. (credit: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

When London’s Millennium Bridge first opened in June 2000, the city was alarmed to discover that the motion of crowds of pedestrians crossing it gave rise to significant shaking and swaying. Londoners nicknamed it “Wobbly Bridge.” Officials shut it down after just two days, and the bridge remained closed for the next two years until appropriate modifications could be made to stop the swaying.

It’s not an entirely unknown phenomenon: there’s a sign dating back to 1873 on London’s Albert Bridge warning military troops to break their usual lock-step motion when crossing. The culprit was not Millennium Bridge’s design. Rather, it was due to a weird synchronicity between the bridge’s lateral (sideways) sway and pedestrians’ gaits.

A new paper in Biology Letters sheds further light on this by simulating the biomechanics of large crowds of people walking on a bridge. While there have been many different approaches to studying these fascinating dynamics over the years—including a lab-based treadmill recreation of people walking across Millennium Bridge by Cambridge University engineer Allan McRobie—this is a significantly improved model of how people adjust their gait when walking on a wobbly surface, according to co-author Varun Joshi of Ohio State University. It suggests that one might not even need synchronization to cause the shaking.

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Post Author: martin

Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of and Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

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