Planning for walking
To successfully promote walking and create walkable environments a holistic approach will deliver the best results. Research suggests that no one element will create a walkable environment, but a number of elements will.
It is important to remember that walking is a human behaviour and a choice that people make - whether they will go somewhere and if so, how. The objective is to have people choose to walk.
For travel, that means a choice between walking or travelling by another means. Other travel modes can either compete with walking (eg cars) or complement walking (public transport). For recreation, the choice may be between walking and sitting on the couch.
Different people will have different reasons for walking and different needs. Western Australia's Planning and designing for pedestrians guidelines (section 6) outlines the different general groups of pedestrians and their needs. Councils should plan for people with more restricted mobility, including children and seniors, to ensure that everyone in the community has the chance to walk.
See the behaviour change section for analysis of motivators and barriers for people to choose to walk.
If you are looking for broad guidance on how to promote walking and walkability, here are some existing resources:
- Probably the best in Australia is the Queensland Government's Easy Steps publication from 2005.
- A little further afield (but still within the world of Austroads) is the helpful New Zealand Pedestrian Planning and Design Guide (2007).
Other good resources include:
- The Walking and Cycling International Literature Review prepared for the Victorian Department of Transport in 2009, analyses the effectiveness of different policy interventions to promote walking.
- The Western Australian Department of Transport provides a range of resources on walking.
- COST 358 Pedestrian's Quality Needs, provides a deep analysis of walking issues, from a European perspective.
- With an American perspective, a wealth of highly detailed information on walking is available at Walkinginfo.org.
- Rural Walking in Massachusetts, a Tool Kit for Municipalities provides an overview of different types of walking facilities that can be constructed in rural areas. It includes case studies of a number of communities building creative and cost-effective walking facilities.