Overview of Walking Rates, Walking Safety, and Government Policies to Encourage More and Safer Walking in Europe and North America

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2023-03-24
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MDPI
Abstract

Walking is the most sustainable means of daily travel for short trip distances and is a key component of the overall transport system. This paper documents variation in walking rates among countries, cities in the same country, and in different parts of the same city. Our international analysis of official government statistics shows that walking rates are highest for short trips, higher for women than for men, decline with increasing income, and remain constant as age increases. Walking fatality rates are much higher in the USA compared with the other countries we examined, both per capita and per km walked. Government policies that would increase walking rates while improving pedestrian safety include: integrated networks of safe and convenient walking infrastructure; roadways and intersections designed for the needs of pedestrians; land-use regulations that encourage mixed uses and short trip distances; lower city-wide speed limits and traffic calming in residential neighborhoods; reduced supply and increased price of parking; traffic laws that give priority to pedestrians; improved traffic education for motorists and non-motorists; tax surcharges on large personal vehicles; and strict enforcement of laws against drink and distracted driving. Five decades of success with these policies in many European cities provide practical examples for car-oriented cities to follow, especially in North America.

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Buehler, R.; Pucher, J. Overview of Walking Rates, Walking Safety, and Government Policies to Encourage More and Safer Walking in Europe and North America. Sustainability 2023, 15, 5719.