Bridge Failure and Public Perception of Safety: Managing Situations the Public See as Dangerous
(Principal Bridge Engineer, Jacobs, UK)
|Médium:||papier de conférence|
|Conférence:||Footbridge 2022: Creating Experience, Madrid, Spain, 07-09 September 2022|
|Publié dans:||Footbridge Madrid 2022 - Creating Experience|
Occasionally, bridge projects present a challenge to the general public in terms of how they look or feel. This can happen during construction, demolition or even through the working operational lifespan. Concern can understandably arise if a structure looks or feels unstable or unsafe, for any reason. Some bridges seem ‘wrong’ even when they are quite safe.
The question of safety, and more particularly the perception of safety, are areas where structural engineering, the commercial realities of bridge ownership/operation, human psychology and public relations meet. When a bridge looks or feel unsafe, despite it being quite stable and without danger, the public may deem such a scenario unacceptable, and this can create friction with what is desirable from the point of view of the bridge owner or operator.
When the above occurs, the interface with the public and clients must be carefully managed. Clear, concise information is vital, communicated in non-jargon language. To persuade the uninitiated that something is safe, despite it looking the opposite, requires skills that bridge professionals sometimes lack. Identifying, understanding, and practicing these skills will sometimes feel counterintuitive to bridge practioners, but they are skills which nonetheless are sometimes essential.
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