Making new suburbs walkable

27 Mar 2013

A major study from the urban growth areas of Perth has revealed how people's walking habits change with a move to the city fringe, and provides direction on how new suburbs can be made more walkable.

The study surveyed the walking habits of 1400 people before and after they moved to new suburbs.  It found an average decrease of 8 minutes per week in transport-related walking, but an overall increase of 15 minutes per week for recreational walking.

The study also provides strong evidence that walking increases with local destinations like shops.  For each destination type that increased, people walked an additional 6 minutes per week.

Importantly, the study recommends providing incentives or introducing infrastructure levies to establish a mix of local businesses, public transport, community services and open space at an early stage of development, to provide the destinations clearly needed to promote walking.

The study is further reported in The Age.  An academic article is available in the journal Social Science and Medicine (cost $35).