sustainability transport

In praise of walking

Since the snow has rendered much of our transport inoperable this week, many people have found themselves taking the ten toe express to work for the first time. One man even walked 18 miles to get to work, showing up all those who, like me, decided not even to try heading into the office.

Perhaps some of those who have walked this week will continue. According to the government’s National Travel Survey, we’re walking less than we used to. The number of journeys done on foot has dropped by 15% in the last ten years.

Not everyone can walk to work of course, but there are plenty of other destinations that are walkable. Nine out of ten of us in the UK are within a fifteen minute walk of the nearest place selling groceries, and the same is true of Post Offices and primary schools. Still, one in five trips under one mile are made by car, and 37% of us admit that many of our shorter journeys could have been done on foot.

Generally speaking, women walk more than men. The laziest among us are men aged between 30 and 39, who make just 177 walking trips a year, against an average of 245.

Walking more would cut down congestion, lower our carbon emissions, and reduce air and noise pollution in our cities. We’ll be healthier, more connected to the places where we live, and walking is great thinking time too. We might even be happier for it. To quote Henry David Thoreau’s essay on walking, “there will so much more air and sunshine in our thoughts.”

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