What is the extent of Americans’ limited walking habits?
How Little Do Americans Walk?
Americans walk far less than residents of other industrialized nations, even for short trips that could easily be done on foot. A recent study shows that the U.S. tied for last with car-dependent New Zealand among populations that walk for the lowest percentage of overall trips. However, the study’s authors say America is not an inherently pedestrian-hostile country, and adopting the transportation policies of more active peer nations could make a difference. The study reveals that Americans are driving even for the shortest trips, and low-income Americans are often forced to walk without the right infrastructure. Pedestrian infrastructure is less robust in the US, and American pedestrians are being killed at higher rates than in other nations.
Despite the high cost of car ownership, Americans walk less than almost any other nation, even for short trips that could be done on foot.
In 1797, the future King of France Louis Philippe I wrote that “Americans are in the habit of never walking if they can ride” after visiting the newly-formed United States of America. Kea Wilson reminds us in Streetsblog that, even today, “Americans walk far less for transportation than residents of other industrialized nations.”
A study published in Sustainability reveals that, “Of the 11 countries in the sample for which data was available for all trip purposes, the U.S. tied for last with notoriously car-dependent New Zealand among the populations that walk for the lowest percentage of overall trips (12 percent).” In comparison, walking made up 20 to 26 percent of trips in the U.K, France, Germany, Finland, and Norway.
The authors of the study, however, emphasize that there’s nothing that makes America a pedestrian-hostile country by nature, and that by adopting the transportation policies of other active peer nations, America can overcome what might feel like an insurmountable collective obsession with cars.
The study provides three key takeaways:
- It’s not just sprawl. Although Americans like to blame the country’s size and spread-out cities for a lack of walking, the study showed that Americans drive more often than their counterparts in other countries even for the shortest trips.
- Low-income Americans are often forced to walk but also benefit from the least robust pedestrian infrastructure.
- American pedestrians are being killed at higher rates than elsewhere, and the problem is only growing.
1- melk360.com ,How Little Do Americans Walk? ,2023-04-17 14:00:00