Walking is the most fundamental form of mobility. It is inexpensive, emission-free, offers important health-benefits, is accessible for all – except those with substantially impaired mobility – regardless of income, and for many citizens is a source of great pleasure.
Too often walking is a neglected transport mode and despite being at the start and end of all trips is rarely captured in government statistics on mobility and is often overlooked and under-valued in planning and policy development.
The vitality of a city is closely linked to people being out and about on foot for many purposes. Beyond walking for access to goods and services, people walking are at the heart of urban life and contribute to liveable, attractive, prosperous and sustainable cities. Walking has great potential to contribute to a more sustainable world and should therefore take a central position in urban transport policies. Ensuring that walking is safe, accessible and attractive is a core response to the challenges of climate change, pollution, congestion, maintaining mobility for an ageing population, health and managing the global desire to motorise.
In a global context the modal share of walking differs substantially between continents, countries and cities. It is particularly high in low-income countries, and in cities with a high share of public transport. It is difficult to compare the data, due to a lack of a consistent measurement methodology, but it is clear from studying both physical activity data and transport mode share statistics that people everywhere do walk and could be encouraged to walk more if their needs are given more consideration and support.