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Old 07-10-2013, 03:22 PM   #1
Peter Knutsen
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Default Reasonable average Human walking speed?

What's a reasonable walking speed for a completely average Human, that can be sustained for 6-8 hours a day, with breaks, several days in a row, assuming no appreciable encumbrance and very friendly terrain. Flat, not muddy, and so forth?

As a child, I read in an arithmetics text book that "you can walk 6 km in an hour, if you hurry a bit". That was written for children, something like age 9 or 10 or 11 I think, so presumably the people behind that will assume that an adult can walk a bit faster still, maybe 7 km/hour.

It does sound kinda fast to me. I probably do walk at 6-7 km/hour, but I'm a fast walker, not an average person. Also, I was never able to sustain that pace for many hours, even before I started accumulating physical disads. It's my "trot 400-800 meters to the shop supermarket or library, do my stuff, then return home"-pace, not my "hiking in the Swedish forests"-pace.

GURPS, defining averge Human Move as 5, with values as high as 10 (i.e. 200% movement capacity) implicitly being within the span of Human variation, says that you can travel Move*10 miles per day, presumably as a 10-hour/day hike, thus a speed of 5 miles/hour, which is about 8 km/h.

That sounds silly fast, for an aveage Human, and some Humans being able to walk twice as fast sounds even sillier. Even ignoring the 10 hours/day for someone who doesn't have even a weaker version of the Fit advantage.

I do acknowledge that some Humans can travel much longer per day than an average person, in Sagatafl, but they do so by being very fit and by utilizing a movement mode that's faster than Walking.

What about 5 km/hour, for an average person? Or 4.5? And a possibility of up to 50% or so faster walking, for an individual optimized to the limits of Human physiology, rather than the 100% posited by GURPS? What sounds reasonable? What figure matches real-world stats for average people?

I need a fairly accurate average, because while in Sagatafl, the Move Factor stat can create tiny differences, e.g. -2 to MF might mean you move 15% or 25% so slower (something like that), and the Terrain Difficulty stat scale is fairly fine-grained, those two will interact to produce a surprisingly wide variety of km/h Walking speeds. And if you multiply those speeds by several weeks worth of travel, and take into account that some low-stamina individuals may be able to hike for only 2-3 hours a day, while others can hike for over 12 hours (if they're extremely fit), the time to walk from the Shire to Mordor can end up being quite variable.
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

Naismith's rule was 4mph on level ground plus one minute per contour up or down. Sucessful hiking rolls can usually beat that by quite a bit.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

The highest speed one can walk is based purely on leg length and harmonics.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

According to a definition used by our road planners, the average adult and
healthy person normally walks with a speed of 3.6 km/h. I tend to walk a
bit faster, especially when I intend to cover a significant distance, but in
my experience 5 km/h is my "comfort speed" over longer distances, going
any faster would soon get tiresome.

Last edited by rust; 07-10-2013 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

Also the same speed as the "false jog"- make eye contact with the driver to show them that you aren't dawdling but not enough to actually speed up. Yeah, I let our pedestrian secrets out.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rust View Post
According to a definition used by our road planners, the average adult and
healthy person normally walks with a speed of 3.6 km/h. I tend to walk a
bit faster, especially when I intend to cover a significant distance, but in
my experience 5 km/h is my "comfort speed" over longer distances, going
any faster would soon get tiresome.
Road planners are drivers. Drivers know nothing about us pedestrians. I'm sorry to say that, but it's an annoying truth.

How fast you can walk is physics. How fast you prefer to walk is fitness and comfort.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
The highest speed one can walk is based purely on leg length and harmonics.
Fitness matters, and motivation, particularly since the OP mentions sustaining the rate for 6-8 hours.

I do about 5.5 km/h, dropping to 5 or less when I'm feeling lazy or not being purposeful about it. I could do "6 km in a hour, if I hurried a bit", but it's a bit faster than my natural pace. I doubt I could do 40 km in 8 hours under any but the most vital circumstances.

Vegetius gives 20 miles in five "summer hours" for the Roman common military step, and 24 miles in five hours for the "full" step. (That's a Roman mile, of course.)

The modern US "quick march" drill is a 30-inch step, 120 per minute, which works out to a bit under 5.5 km/h. It's for formal drill these days, of course, but inherited from times when the drilling was for actual travel.

There's any amount of debate of marching rules in the history of the GURPS forum.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

I can only give one data point: Per pedometer readings, I average 5.6 kph over long hauls (4+ hours), but on a 1.8-km walk I do regularly, I average more like 7.2 kph. I have no idea how "average" I am; I've never driven a car, so I've walked to get around all my life, and I do daily elliptical training with high resistance plus weights. On the other hand, that lifestyle is closer to what humans did for millennia before cars and predominantly sedentary lifestyles . . . I wouldn't treat "typical 20th- or 21st-century city person with a car" as "average" but as "kind of slow and unfit."
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

I walk 100m per minute in light shoes on pavement, when hurrying a little (e.g. I used to walk 2.2 km to work in 22 minutes on fine days, 26 minutes on rainy ones) and entirely unburdened. A standard British quick march is 120 steps per minute, thirty inches per step. Standard quick march in highland regiments is 112 steps per minute, thirty inches per step, because of the kilt. Walking my dog through ankle-deep grass I walk 5 km/hr. Wearing a raincoat slows me significantly. Hurrying to a telephone to call an ambulance whilst experiencing ventricular tachycardia, in a raincoat, up a steep hill, I managed 250m in thirteen minutes.
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Last edited by Agemegos; 07-10-2013 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:36 PM   #10
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Default Re: Reasonable average Human walking speed?

Average modern Americans are sedentary drivers. Not necessarily healthy or "normal" as a species member, but certainly average. I walk a lot, but have never timed myself over known distances.
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