Footbridge Dynamics : Human-Structure Interaction

Abstract: For aesthetic reasons and due to an increased demand for cost-effective and environmentally friendly civil engineering structures, there is a trend in designing light and slender structures. Consequently, many modern footbridges are susceptible to excessive vibrations caused by human-induced loads. To counteract this, today's design guidelines for footbridges generally require verification of the comfort criteria for footbridges with natural frequencies in the range of pedestrian step frequencies. To ensure that a certain acceleration limit is not exceeded, the guidelines provide simplified methodologies for vibration serviceability assessment.However, shortcomings of these methodologies have been identified. First, for certain footbridges, human-structure interaction (HSI) effects might have a significant impact on the dynamic response. One such effect is that the modal properties of the bridge change in the presence of a crowd; most importantly, the damping of the bridge is increased. If this effect is neglected, predicted acceleration levels might be overestimated. Second, as a running person induces a force of greater amplitude than a walking person, a single runner might cause a footbridge to vibrate excessively. Hence, the running load case is highly relevant. These two aspects have in common that they are disregarded in existing design guidelines.For the stated reasons, the demand for improvements of the guidelines is currently high and, prospectively, it might be necessary to require the consideration of both the HSI effect and running loads. Therefore, this licentiate thesis aims at deepening the understanding of these subjects, with the main focus being placed on the HSI effect and, more precisely, on how it can be accounted for in an efficient way.A numerical investigation of the HSI effect and its impact on the vertical acceleration response of a footbridge was performed. The results show that the HSI effect reduces the peak acceleration and that the greatest reduction is obtained for a crowd to bridge frequency ratio close to unity and a high crowd to bridge mass ratio. Furthermore, the performance of two simplified modelling approaches for consideration of the HSI effect was evaluated. Both simplified models can be easily implemented and proved the ability to predict the change in modal properties as well as the structural response of the bridge. Besides that, the computational cost was reduced, compared to more advanced models.Moreover, a case study comprising field tests and simulations was performed to investigate the effect of runners on footbridges. The acceleration limit given in the design guideline was exceeded for one single person running across the bridge while a group of seven people walking across the bridge did not cause exceedance of the limit. Hence, it was concluded that running loads require consideration in the design of a footbridge.

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